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LETTERS 



OF 



EMILY DICKINSON 



EDITED BY 

MABEL LOOMIS TODD 



IN TWO VOLUMES 

Volume I 



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^^VA5 ^ ... -;• 

BOSTON V77i ^"-^ 

ROBERTS BROTHERS 
1894 



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Copyright, 1894 
By Roberts Brothers 



mniijersitg Press 
John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 
VOLUME 1 



Page 

Introductory v 

Chapter 

I. To Mrs A. P. Strong .... (184 5-1853) i 

II. To Mr W. a. Dickinson. . . (1847-1854) 65 

III. To Mrs Gordon L. Ford, Mr 

Bowdoin, Mrs Anthon, and 

Miss Lavinia Dickinson . . (1848-1865) 125 

IV. To Dr and Mrs J G. Holland (1853-1883) 155 
V. To Mr and Mrs Samuel Bowles (1858-1881) 189 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Child Portrait of Emily Dickinson . . Frontispiece 

Page 

Letter to Dr and Mrs Holland, /acsimi/e . • 159 



Letter to Mr Samuel Bowles, facsimile ... 218 



INTRODUCTORY 



THE lovers of Emily Dickinson's poems have 
been so eager for her prose that her sister 
has gathered these letters, and committed their pre- 
paration to me. 

Emily Dickinson's verses, often but the reflection 
of a passing mood, do not always completely repre- 
sent herself, — rarely, indeed, showing the dainty 
humor, the frolicsome gayety, which continually 
bubbled over in her daily life. The sombre and 
even weird outlook upon this world and the next, 
characteristic of many of the poems, was by no 
means a prevailing condition of mind ; for, while 
fully apprehending all the tragic elements in life, 
enthusiasm and bright joyousness were yet her 
normal qualities, and stimulating moral heights her 
native dwelling-place. All this may be glimpsed in 
her letters, no less full of charm, it is believed, to 
the general reader, than to Emily Dickinson's per- 
sonal friends. As she kept no journal, the letters 
are the more interesting because they contain all the 
prose which she is known to have written. 



vi INTRODUCTORY 



It was with something almosJ Uke dread that I 
approached the task of arranging these letters, lest 
the deep revelations of a peculiarly shy inner life 
might so pervade them that in true loyalty to their 
writer none could be publicly used. But with few 
exceptions they have been read and prepared with 
entire relief from that feeling, and with unshrinking 
pleasure ; the sanctities were not invaded. Emily 
kept her little reserves, and bared her soul but seldom, 
even in intimate correspondence. It was not so 
much that she was always on spiritual guard, as that 
she sported with her varying moods, and tested them 
upon her friends with apparent delight in the effect, 
as airy and playful as it was half unconscious. 

So large is the number of letters to each of 
several correspondents, that it has seemed best to 
place these sets in separate chapters. The conti- 
nuity is perhaps more perfectly preserved in this way 
than by the usual method of mere chronological 
succession ; especially as, in a life singularly un- 
eventful, no marked periods of travel or achieve- 
ment serve otherwise to classify them. On this plan 
a certain order has been possible, too ; the opening 
letters in each chapter are always later than the first 
of the preceding, although the last letters of one 
reach a date beyond the beginning of the next. 
The less remarkable writing, of course, fills the first 
chapters ; but even this shows her love of study, of 
Nature, and a devotion to home almost as intense 
as in strange Emily Bronte. 



INTRODUCTORY vil 



Nothing is perhaps, more marked than the change 
of style between the diffuseness of girlhood and the 
brilliant sententiousness of late middle life, often 
startlingly unexpected. And yet suggestions of fu- 
ture picturesque and epigrammatic power occasion- 
ally flash through the long, youthful correspondence. 
Lowell once wrote of the first letters of Carlyle, 
'The man ... is all there in the earliest of his 
writing that we have (potentially there, in character 
wholly there).' It is chiefly for these 'potential' 
promises that Emily Dickinson's girlish letters are 
included, all the variations in the evolution of a 
style having hardly less interest for the student of 
human nature than of literature. Village life, even 
in a college town, was very democratic in the early 
days when the first of these letters were written, 
and they suggest a refreshing atmosphere of homely 
simplicity. 

Unusual difficulties have been encountered in ar- 
ranging the letters with definite reference to years, 
as none but the very earliest were dated. The 
change in handwriting, of which specimens are given 
in facsimile, was no less noticeable than Emily 
Dickinson's development in literary style ; and this 
alone has been a general guide. The thoughtfulness 
of a few correspondents in recording the time of 
the letters' reception has been a farther and most 
welcome assistance ; while occasionally the kind of 
postage-stamp and the postmark helped to indicate 
when they were written, although generally the enve- 



Vlll INTRODUCTORY 



lopes had not been preserved. But the larger part 
have been placed by searching out the dates of 
contemporaneous incidents mentioned, — for in- 
stance, numerous births, marriages, and deaths; 
any epoch in the life of a friend was an event to 
Emily Dickinson, always noticed by a bit of flashing 
verse, or a graceful, if mystically expressed, note of 
comfort or congratulation. If errors are found in 
assignment to the proper time, it will not be from 
lack of having interrogated all available sources of 
information. 

In more recent years, dashes instead of punctua- 
tion, and capitals for all important words, together 
with the quaint handwriting, give to the actual 
manuscript an individual fascination quite irre- 
sistible. But the coldness of print destroys that 
elusive charm, so that dashes and capitals have been 
restored to their conventional use. 

In her later years, Emily Dickinson rarely ad- 
dressed the envelopes : it seemed as if her sensitive 
nature shrank from the publicity which even her 
handwriting would undergo, in the observation of 
indifferent eyes. Various expedients were resorted 
to, — obliging friends frequently performed this office 
for her; sometimes a printed newspaper label was 
pasted upon the envelope ; but the actual strokes 
of her own pencil were, so far as possible, reserved 
exclusively for friendly eyes. 

Emily Dickinson's great disinclination for an ex- 
position of the theology current during her girlhood 



INTRODUCTORY ix 



j is matter for small wonder. While her fathers were 
men of recognized originality and force, they did not 
question the religious teaching of the time ; they 
were leaders in town and church, even strict and 
uncompromising in their piety. Reverence for 
accepted ways and forms, merely as such, seems 
entirely to have been left out of Emily's constitu- 
tion. To her, God was not a far-away and dreary 
Power to be daily addressed, — the great ' Eclipse ' 
of which she wrote, — but He was near and familiar 
and pervasive. Her garden was full of His bright- 
ness and glory ; the birds sang and the sky glowed 
because of Him. To shut herself out of the sun- 
shine in a church, dark, chilly, restricted, was rather 
to shut herself away from Him ; almost pathetically 
she wrote, ' I believe the love of God may be taught 
not to seem like bears.' 

In essence, no real irreverence mars her poems 
or her letters. Of malice aforethought, — an inten- 
tional irreverence, — she is never once guilty. The 
old interpretation of the biblical estimate of life was 
cause to her for gentle, wide-eyed astonishment. 
No one knew better the phrases which had become 
cant, and which seemed always to misrepresent the 
Father Whom she knew with personal directness 
and without necessity for human intervention. It 
was a theologically misconceived idea of a 'jealous 
God,' for which she had a profound contempt ; and 
the fact that those ideas were still held by the stricter 
New England people of her day made not the 



INTRODUCTORY 



slightest difference in her expression of disapproval. 
Fearless and daring, she had biblical quotation at 
her finger-tips ; and even if she sometimes used it 
in a way which might shock a conventionalist, she 
had in her heart too profound an adoration for the 
great, ever-living, and present Father to hold a 
shadow of real irreverence toward Him, so pecu- 
liarly near. No soul in which dwelt not a very 
noble and actual love and respect for the essen- 
tials could have written as she did of real triumph, 
of truth, of aspiration. 

*We never know how high we are, 
Till we are called to rise ; 
And then, if we are true to plan, 
Our statures touch the skies. 

'The heroism we recite 

Would be a daily thing 
Did not ourselves the cubits warp, 

For fear to be a king.' 

Must not one who wrote that have had her ever- 
open shrine, her reverenced tribunal? 

The whims and pretences of society, its forms 
and unrealities, seemed to her thin and unworthy. 
Conventionalities, while they amused, exasperated 
her also ; and the little poem beginning, 

' The show is not the show, 
But they that go,' 

expresses in large measure her attitude toward soci- 
ety, when she lived in the midst of it. Real life, 
on the other hand, seemed vast and inexpressibly 



INTRODUCTORY XI 



solemn. Petty trivialities had no part in her con- 
stitution, and she came to despise them more and 
more, — so much, indeed, that with her increasing 
shyness, she gradually gave up all journeys, and 
finally retired completely from even the simple life 
of a New England college town. 

As has been said of Emily Bronte, ' To this natural 
isolation of spirit we are in a great measure in- 
debted for that passionate love of Nature which 
gives such a vivid reality and exquisite simplicity to 
her descriptions.' Emily Dickinson's letters, almost 
as much as the poems, exhibit her elf-like intimacy 
with Nature. She sees and apprehends the great 
mother's processes, and shares the rapture of all 
created things under the wide sky. The letters 
speak of flowers, of pines and autumnal colors ; but 
no natural sight or sound or incident seems to have 
escaped her delicate apprehension. 

Bird songs, crickets, frost, and winter winds, even 
the toad and snake, mushrooms and bats, have an in- 
describable charm for her, which she in turn brings 
to us. March, ' that month of proclamation,' was 
especially dear; and among her still unpublished 
verses is a characteristic greeting to the windy 
month. In all its aspects ' Nature became the 
unique charm and consolation of her life, and as 
such she has written of it.' 

Warm thanks are due the friends who have gen- 
erously lent letters for reproduction. That they 
were friends of Emily Dickinson, and willing to 



Xll INTRODUCTORY 



share her words with the larger outside circle, wait- 
ing and appreciative, entitles them to the gratitude, 
not merely of the Editor, but of all who make up 
the world that Emily ' never saw,' but to which, 
nevertheless, she sent a 'message.' 



MABEL LOOMIS TODD 



Amherst, Massachusetts 
October 1894 



LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON 



CHAPTER I 

To Mrs A. P. Strong 

nPHE letters in this chapter were written 
^ to a schoolmate and early friend. The 
first is one of the oldest yet found, dated 
when Emily Dickinson had but recently passed 
her fourteenth birthday. 

Before the era of outer envelopes, it is 
quaintly written on a large square sheet, and 
so folded that the fourth page forms a cover 
bearing the address. Most of the remaining 
letters to Mrs Strong are thus folded, and 
sealed either with wax or wafers, — occasion- 
ally with little rectangular or diamond papers 
bearing mottoes stamped in gold. The hand- 
writing is almost microscopic, the pages en- 
tirely filled. Merely personal items have been 
generally omitted. 

It will be seen that the name ' Emilie E. 
Dickinson ' is sometimes used. The ie was 

VOL. I. — I 



2 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1845 

a youthful vagary, and the second initial, E., 
stood for Elizabeth, a * middle name ' entirely 
discarded in later years. 

Amherst, Feb. 23, 1845. 

Dear A., — After receiving the smitings of con- 
science for a long time, I have at length succeeded 
in stifling the voice of that faithful monitor by a 
promise of a long letter to you ; so leave everything 
and sit down prepared for a long siege in the shape 
of a bundle of nonsense from friend E. 

... I keep your lock of hair as precious as gold 
and a great deal more so. I often look at it when 
I go to my little lot of treasures, and wish the owner 
of that glossy lock were here. Old Time wags on 
pretty much as usual at Amherst, and I know of 
nothing that has occurred to break the silence ; 
however, the reduction of the postage has excited 
my risibles somewhat. Only think ! We can send 
a letter before long for five little coppers only, filled 
with the thoughts and advice of dear friends. But 
I will not get into a philosophizing strain just yet. 
There is time enough for that upon another page 
of this mammoth sheet. . . . Your bean- ideal D. 
I have not seen lately. I presume he was changed 
into a star some night while gazing at them, and 
placed in the constellation Orion between Bellatrix 
and Betelgeux. I doubt not if he was here he 
would wish to be kindly remembered to you. 
What delightful weather we have had for a week ! 



1845] TO MRS STRONG 3 

It seems more like smiling May crowned with flow- 
ers than cold, arctic February wading through snow- 
drifts. I have heard some sweet little birds sing, 
but I fear we shall have more cold weather and their 
little bills will be frozen up before their songs are 
finished. My plants look beautifully. Old King 
Frost has not had the pleasure of snatching any of 
them in his cold embrace as yet, and I hope will 
not. Our little pussy has made out to live. I believe 
you know what a fatality attends our little kitties, all 
of them, having had six die one right after the other. 
Do you love your litde niece J. as well as ever? 
Your soliloquy on the year that is past and gone was 
not unheeded by me. Would that we might spend 
the year which is now fleeting so swiftly by to better 
advantage than the one which we have not the power 
to recall ! Now I know you will laugh, and say I 
wonder what makes Emily so sentimental. But I 
don't care if you do, for I sha'n't hear you. What 
are you doing this v/inter? I am about everything. 
I am now v/orking a pair of slippers to adorn my 
father's feet. I wish you would come and help me 
finish them. . . . Although it is late in the day, I 
am going to wish you a happy New Year, — not but 
what I think your New Year will pass just as happily 
without it, but to make a litde return for your kind 
wish, which so far in a good many respects has been 
granted, probably because you wished that it might 
be so. ... I go to singing-school Sabbath evenings 
to improve my voice. Don't you envy me? . . . 



4 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1845 

I wish you would come and make me a long visit. 
If you will, I will entertain you to the best of my 
abilities, which you know are neither few nor small. 
Why can't you persuade your father and mother to 
let you come here to school next term, and keep me 

company, as I am going? Miss , I presume you 

can guess who I mean, is going to finish her educa- 
tion next summer. The finishing stroke is to be put 
on at Newton. She will then have learned all that 
we poor foot-travellers are toiling up the hill of 
knowledge to acquire. Wonderful thought ! Her 
horse has carried her along so swiftly that she has 
nearly gained the summit, and we are plodding along 
on foot after her. Well said and sufficient this. 
We '11 finish an education sometime, won't we? You 
may then be Plato, and I will be Socrates, provided 
you won't be wiser than I am. Lavinia just now 
interrupted my flow of thought by saying give my 
love to A. I presume you will be glad to have some 
one break off" this epistle. All the girls send much 
love to you. And please accept a large share for 
yourself. From your beloved 

Emily E. Dickinson. 

Please send me a copy of that Romance you were 
writing at Amherst. I am in a fever to read it. I 
expect it will be against my Whig feelings. 

After this postscript many others follow, 
across the top, down the edges, tucked in 



1845] TO MRS STRONG 5 

wherever space will allow. There are also a 
few lines from each of three girl friends to 
' dear A/ 

Amherst, May 7, 1845. 

Dear A., — It seems almost an age since I have 
seen you, and it is indeed an age for friends to be 
separated. I was delighted to receive a paper from 
you, and I also was much pleased with the news it 
contained, especially that you are taking lessons on 
the * piny,' as you always call it. But remember not to 
get on ahead of me. Father intends to have a piano 
very soon. How happy I shall be when I have one 
of my own ! Old Father Time has wrought many 
changes here since your last short visit. Miss S. T. 
and Miss N. M. have both taken the marriage vows 
upon themselves. Dr Hitchcock has moved into 
his new house, and Mr Tyler across the way from 
our house has moved into President Hitchcock's old 
house. Mr C. is going to move into Mr T.'s former 
house, but the worst thing old Time has done here is 
he has walked so fast as to overtake H. M. and carry 
her to Hartford on last week Saturday. I was so 
vexed with him for it that I ran after him and made 
out to get near enough to him to put some salt on 
his tail, when he fled and left me to run home alone. 
. . . Viny went to Boston this morning with father, 
to be gone a fortnight, and I am left alone in all my 
glory. I suppose she has got there before this time, 
and is probably staring with mouth and eyes wide 



6 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1845 

open at the wonders of the city. I have been to 
walk to-night, and got some very choice wild flowers. 
I wish you had some of them. Viny and I both go 
to school this term. We have a very fine school. 
There are ()2i scholars. I have four studies. They 
are Mental Philosophy, Geology, Latin, and Botany. 
How large they sound, don't they? I don't believe 
you have such big studies. . . . My plants look finely 
now. I am going to send you a little geranium leaf 
in this letter, which you must press for me. Have 
you made you an herbarium yet? I hope you will 
if you have not, it would be such a treasure to you ; 
'most all the girls are making one. If you do, per- 
haps I can make some additions to it from flowers 
growing around here. How do you enjoy your school 
this term ? Are the teachers as pleasant as our old 
school-teachers? I expect you have a great many 
prim, starched up young ladies there, who, I doubt 
not, are perfect models of propriety and good behav- 
ior. If they are, don't let your free spirit be chained 
by them. I don't know as there [are] any in school 
of this stamp. But there 'most always are a few, 
whom the teachers look up to and regard as their 
satellites. I am growing handsome very fast indeed ! 
I expect I shall be the belle of Amherst when I reach 
my 1 7th year. I don't doubt that I shall have per- 
fect crowds of admirers at that age. Then how I 
shall delight to make them await my bidding, and 
with what delight shall I witness their suspense while 
I make my final decision. But away with my non- 



1845] TO MRS STRONG 7 

sense. I have written one composition this term, 
and I need not assure you it was exceedingly edify- 
ing to myself as well as everybody else. Don't you 
want to see it? I really wish you could have a 
chance. We are obliged to write compositions once 
in a fortnight, and select a piece to read from 
some interesting book the week that we don't write 
compositions. 

We really have some most charming young women 
in school this term. I sha'n't call them anything 
but women, for women they are in every sense of 
the word. I must, however, describe one, and while 
I describe her I wish Imagination, who is ever pres- 
ent with you, to make a litde picture of this self- same 
young lady in your mind, and by her aid see if you 
cannot conceive how she looks. Well, to begin. . . . 
Then just imagine her as she is, and a huge string of 
gold beads encircling her neck, and don't she present 
a lively picture ; and then she is so bustling, she is 
always whizzing about, and whenever I come in con- 
tact with her I really think I am in a hornet's nest. 
I can't help thinking every time I see this singular 
piece of humanity of Shakespeare's description of a 
tempest in a teapot. But I must not laugh about 
her, for I verily believe she has a good heart, and 
that is the principal thing now-a-days. Don't you 
hope I shall become wiser in the company of such 
virtuosos? It would certainly be desirable. Have 
you noticed how beautifully the trees look now? 
They seem to be completely covered with fragrant 



8 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1845 

blossoms. ... I had so many things to do for Viny, 
as she was going away, that very much against my 
wishes I deferred writing you until now, but forgive 
and forget, dear A., and I will promise to do better 
in future. Do write me soon, and let it be a long, 
long letter ; and when you can't get time to write, 
send a paper, so as to let me know you think of me 
still, though we are separated by hill and stream. 
All the girls send much love to you. Don't forget 
to let me receive a letter from you soon. I can say 
no more now as my paper is all filled up. 
Your aifectionate friend, 

Emily E. Dickinson. 

[Written in 1845 5 postmarked Amherst, August 4.] 

Sabbath Eve. 

Dear A., — I have now sat down to write you a 
long, long letter. My writing apparatus is upon a 
stand before me, and all things are ready. I have 
no flowers before me as you had to inspire you. 
But then you know I can imagine myself inspired 
by them, and perhaps that will do as well. You 
cannot imagine how delighted I was to receive your 
letter. It was so full, and everything in it was inter- 
esting to me because it came from you. I presume 
you did not doubt my gratitude for it, on account 
of my delaying so long to answer it, for you know I 
have had no leisure for anything. When I tell you 
that our term has been eleven weeks long, and that 
I have had four studies and taken music lessons, you 



1845] TO MRS STRONG 9 

can imagine a little how my time has been taken up 
lately. I will try to be more punctual in such mat- 
ters for the future. How are you now? I am very 
sorry to hear that you are unable to remain in your 
school on account of your health, it must be such 
a disappointment to you. But I presume you are 
enjoying yourself much to be at home again. You 
asked me in your last letter if old Father Time 
wagged on in Amherst pretty much as ever. For 
my part, I see no particular change in his move- 
ments unless it be that he goes on a swifter pace 
than formerly, and that he wields his sickle more 
sternly than ever. How do you like taking music 
lessons? I presume you are delighted with it. 1 

am taking lessons this term of Aunt S , who is 

spending the summer with us. I never enjoyed 
myself more than I have this summer; for we 
have had such a delightful school and such pleasant 
teachers, and besides I have had a piano of my 
own. Our examination is to come off next week 
on Monday. I wish you could be here at that time. 
Why can't you come? If you will, you can come 
and practise on my piano as much as you wish to. 
I am already gasping in view of our examination ; 
and although I am determined not to dread it I 
know it is so foolish, yet in spite of my heroic reso- 
lutions, I cannot avoid a few misgivings when I 
think of those tall, stern trustees, and when I know 
that I shall lose my character if I don't recite as 
precisely as the laws of the Medes and Persians. 



10 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1845 

But what matter will that be a hundred years hence ? 
I will distress you no longer with my fears, for you 
know well enough what they are without my enter- 
ing into any explanations. Are you practising now 
you are at home? I hope you are, for if you are 
not you would be likely to forget what you have 
learnt. I want very much to hear you play. I have 
the same instruction book that you have, Bertini, 

and I am getting along in it very well. Aunt S 

says she sha'n't let me have many tunes now, for she 
wants I should get over in the book a good ways first. 

Oh, A., if Sarah G , H , and yourself were 

only here this summer, what times we should have ! 
I wish if we can't be together all the time that we 
could meet once in a while at least. I wish you 
would all come to our house, and such times as we 
would have would be a caution. I want to see you 
all so much that it seems as if I could not wait. 
Have you heard anything from Miss Adams, our 
dear teacher? How much I would give to see her 
once more, but I am afraid I never shall. She is so 
far away. You asked me in your letter to tell you 
all the news worth telling, and although there is not 
much, yet I will endeavor to think of everything 
that will be new to you. In the first place, Mrs 
J. and Mrs S. M. have both of them a little daugh- 
ter. Very promising children, I understand. I 
don't doubt if they live they will be ornaments to 
society. I think they are both to be considered 
as embryos of future usefulness. Mrs W. M. has 



1845] TO MRS STRONG 1 1 

now two grand-daughters. Is n't she to be envied? 
... I am sorry that you are laying up H.'s sins 
against her. I think you had better heap coals of 
fire upon her head by writing to her constantly until 
you get an answer. I have some patience with 
these ' school marms.' They have so many trials. 
I hope you will decide to blot out her iniquities 
against her. I don't know about this Mr E. giv- 
ing you concert tickets. I think for my part it 
looks rather suspicious. He is a young man, I sup- 
pose. These music teachers are always such high- 
souled beings that I think they would exactly suit 
your fancy. My garden looks beautifully now. I 
wish you could see it. I would send you a bouquet 
if I could get a good opportunity. My house plants 
look very finely, too. You wished me to give you 
some account of S. P. She is attending school this 
term and studying Latin and Algebra. She is very 
well and happy and sends much love to you. All 
the girls send much love to you, and wish you to 
write to them. I have been working a beautiful 
book-mark to give to one of our school-girls. Per- 
haps you have seen it. It is an arrow with a beau- 
tiful wreath around it. Have you altered any since 
I have seen you? Isn't it a funny question for one 
friend to ask another? I haven't altered any, I 
think, except that I have my hair done up, and that 
makes me look different. I can imagine just how 
you look now. I wonder what you are doing this 
moment. I have got an idea that you are knitting 



12 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1845 

edging. Are you? Won't you tell me when you 
answer my letter whether I guessed right or not? 
. . . You gave me a compliment in your letter in 
regard to my being a faithful correspondent. I 
must say I think I deserve it. I have been learn- 
ing several beautiful pieces lately. The 'Grave of 
Bonaparte' is one, * Lancers Quickstep,' and 'Maiden, 
weep no more,' which is a sweet little song. I wish 
much to see you and hear you play. I hope you 
will come to A. before long. Why can't you pass 
commencement here? I do wish you would. . . . 
I have looked my letter over, and find I have written 
nothing worth reading. , . . Accept much love from 
your affectionate friend, 

Emily E. D. 

Thursday, Sept. 26, 1845. 

Dearest A., — As I just glanced at the clock 
and saw how smoothly the little hands glide over 
the surface, I could scarcely believe that those self- 
same little hands had eloped with so many of my 
precious moments since I received your affectionate 
letter, and it was still harder for me to believe that 
I, who am always boasting of being so faithful a cor- 
respondent, should have been guilty of negligence 
in so long delaying to answer it. ... I am very 
glad to hear that you are better than you have been, 
and I hope in future disease will not be as neigh- 
borly as he has been heretofore to either of us. I 
long to see you, dear A., and speak with you face 



1845] TO MRS STRONG 1 3 

to face ; but so long as a bodily interview is denied 
us, we must make letters answer, though it is hard 
for friends to be separated. I really believe you 
would have been frightened to have heard me scold- 
when Sabra informed me that you had decided not 
to visit Amherst this fall. But as I could find no 
one upon whom to vent my spleen for your decision,- 
I thought it best to be calm, and therefore have at 
length resigned myself to my cruel fate, though with 
not a very good grace. I think' you do well to 
inquire whether anything has been heard from H. 
I really don't know what has become of her, unless 
procrastination has carried her off. I think that 
must be the case. I think you have given quite a 
novel description of the wedding. Are you quite 
sure Mr F., the minister, told them to stand up and 
he would tie them in a great bow-knot ? But I beg 
pardon for speaking so lightly of so solemn a cere- 
mony. You asked me in your letter if I did not 
think you partial in your admiration of Miss Helen 
H., ditto Mrs P. I answer, Not in the least. She 
was universally beloved in Amherst. She made us 
quite a visit in June, and we regretted more than 
ever that she was going where we could not see her 
as often as we had been accustomed. She seemed 
very happy in her prospects, and seemed to think 
distance nothing in comparison to a home with the 
one of her choice. I hope she will be happy, 
and of course she will. I wished much to see her 
once more, but was denied the privilege. . . . You 



14 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1845 

asked me if I was attending school now. I am 
not. Mother thinks me not able to confine myself 
to school this term. She had rather I would exer- 
cise, and I can assure you I get plenty of that article 
by staying at home. I am going to learn to make 
bread to-morrow. So you may imagine me with my 
sleeves rolled up, mixing flour, milk, saleratus, etc., 
with a deal of grace. I advise you if you don't 
know how to make the staff of life to learn with 
dispatch. I think I could keep house very com- 
fortably if I knew how to cook. But as long as I 
don't, my knowledge of housekeeping is about of 
as much use as faith without works, which you know 
we are told is dead. Excuse my quoting from 
Scripture, dear A., for it was so handy in this case 
I could n't get along very well without it. Since I 
wrote you last, the summer is past and gone, and 
autumn with the sere and yellow leaf is already 
upon us. I never knew the time to pass so swiftly, 
it seems to me, as the past summer. I really think 
some one must have oiled his chariot wheels, for I 
don't recollect of hearing him pass, and I am sure 
I should if something had not prevented his chariot 
wheels from creaking as usual. But I will not expa- 
tiate upon him any longer, for I know it is v/icked 
to trifle with so revered a personage, and I fear 
he will make me a call in person to inquire as to 
the remarks which I have made concerning him. 
Therefore I will let him alone for the present. . . . 
How are you getting on with your music ? Well, I 



1845] TO MRS STRONG 1 5 

hope and trust. I am taking lessons and am get- 
ting along very well, and now I have a piano, I am 
very happy. I feel much honored at having even a 
doll named for me. I believe I shall have to give 
it a silver cup, as that is the custom among old 
ladies when a child is named for them. . . . Have 
you any flowers now ? I have had a beautiful flower- 
garden this summer ; but they are nearly gone now. 
It is very cold to-night, and I mean to pick the pret- 
tiest ones before I go to bed, and cheat Jack Frost 
of so many of the treasures he calculates to rob 
to-night. Won't it be a capital idea to put him at 
defiance, for once at least, if no more? I would 
love to send you a bouquet if I had an opportunity, 
and you could press it and write under it. The last 
flowers of summer. Would n't it be poetical, and 
you know that is what young ladies aim to be now- 
a-days. ... I expect I have altered a good deal 
since I have seen you, dear A. I have grown tall a 
good deal, and wear my golden tresses done up in 
a net-cap. Modesty, you know, forbids me to men- 
tion whether my personal appearance has altered. 
I leave that for others to judge. But my [word 
omitted] has not changed, nor will it in time to 
come. 1 shall always remain the same old six- 
pence. ... I can say no more now, as it is after 
ten, and everybody has gone to bed but me. Don't 
forget your affectionate friend, 

Emily E. D. 



1 6 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1846 

Amherst, Jan. 12, 1846. 
A., MY DEAR, — Since I received your precious 
letter another year has commenced its course, and 
the old year has gone never to return. How sad 
it makes one feel to sit down quietly and think of 
the flight of the old year, and the unceremonious 
obtrusion of the new year upon our notice ! How 
many things we have omitted to do which might 
have cheered a human heart, or whispered hope 
in the ear of the sorrowful, and how many things 
have we done over which the dark mantle of regret 
will ever fall ! How many good resolutions did I 
make at the commencement of the year now flown, 
merely to break them and to feel more than ever 
convinced of the weakness of my own resolutions ! 
The New Year's day was unusually gloomy to me, 
I know not why, and perhaps for that reason a host 
of unpleasant reflections forced themselves upon 
me which I found not easy to throw off. But 
I will no longer sentimentalize upon the past, for 
I cannot recall it. I will, after inquiring for the 
health of my dear A., relapse into a more lively 
strain. I can hardly have patience to write, for I 
have not seen you for so long that I have worlds 
of things to tell you, and my pen is not swift enough 
to answer my purpose at all. However, I will try 
to make it communicate as much information as 
possible and wait to see your own dear self once 
more before I relate all my thoughts which have 
come and gone since I last saw you. I suppose 



1S46] TO MRS STRONG 1 7 

from your letter that you are enjoying yourself finely 
this winter at Miss C.'s school. I would give a great 
deal if I was there with you. I don't go to school 
this winter except to a recitation in German. Mr 
C. has a very large class, and father thought I might 
never have another opportunity to study it. It 
takes about an hour and a half to recite. Then I 
take music lessons and practise two hours in a day, 
and besides these two I have a large stand of plants 
to cultivate. This is the principal round of my 
occupation this winter. ... I have just seen a 
funeral procession go by of a negro baby, so if my 
ideas are rather dark you need not marvel. . . . 
Old Santa Glaus was very polite to me the last 
Ghristmas. I hung up my stocking on the bed- 
post as usual. I had a perfume bag and a bottle 
of otto of rose to go with it, a sheet of music, 
a china mug with Forget me not upon it, from 
S. S., — who, by the way, is as handsome, enter- 
taining, and as fine a piano player as in former 
times, — a toilet cushion, a watch case, a fortune- 
teller, and an amaranthine stock of pin-cushions and 
needlebooks, which in ingenuity and art would rival 
the works of Scripture Dorcas. I found abundance 
of candy in my stocking, which I do not think has 
had the anticipated effect upon my disposition, in 
case it was to sweeten it, also two hearts at the 
bottom of all, which I thought looked rather omi- 
nous ; but I will not enter into any more details, for 
they take up more room than I can spare. 

VOL. I. — 2 



1 8 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1846 , 

Haven't we had delightful weather for a week or 
two ? It seems as if Old Winter had forgotten him- 
self. Don't you believe he is absent-minded? It 
has been bad weather for colds, however. I have 
had a severe cold for a few days, and can sympathize 
with you, though I have been delivered from a stiff 
neck. I think you must belong to the tribe of Israel, 
for you know in the Bible the prophet calls them a 
stiff-necked generation. I have lately come to the 
conclusion that I am Eve, alias Mrs Adam. You 
know there is no account of her death in the Bible, 
and why am not I Eve ? If you find any statements 
which you think likely to prove the truth of the case, 
I wish you would send them to me without delay. 

Have you heard a word from H. M. or S. T.? 
I consider them lost sheep. I send them a paper 
every week on Monday, but I never get one in 
return. I am almost a mind to take a hand-car 
and go around to hunt them up. I can't think that 
they have forgotten us, and I know of no reason 
unless they are sick why they should delay so long 
to show any signs of remembrance. Do write me 
soon a very long letter, and tell me all about your 
school and yourself too. 

Your affectionate friend, 

Emily E. Dickinson. 

Friday Eve [summer], 1846. 

My dear a., — Though it is a long time since I 
received your affectionate epistle, yet when I give 



1846] TO MRS STRONG 1 9 

you my reasons for my long delay, I know you will 
freely forgive and forget all past offences. 

It seems to me that time has never flown so 
swiftly with me as it has the last spring. I have 
been busy every minute, and not only so, but hur- 
ried all the time. So you may imagine that I have 
not had a spare moment, much though my heart has 
longed for it, to commune with an absent friend. 
... I presume you will be wondering by this time 
what I am doing to be in so much haste as I have 
declared myself to be. Well, I will tell you. I am 
fitting to go to South Hadley Seminary, and expect 
if my health is good to enter that institution a year 
from next fall. Are you not astonished to hear such 
news ? You cannot imagine how much I am antici- 
pating in entering there. It has been in my thought 
by day, and my dreams by night, ever since I heard 
of South Hadley Seminary. I fear I am anticipat- 
ing too much, and that some freak of fortune may 
overturn all my airy schemes for future happiness. 
But it is my nature always to anticipate more than 
I realize. . . . Have you not heard that Miss Adams 
— dear Miss Adams — is here this term? Oh, you 
cannot imagine how natural it seems to see her 
happy face in school once more. But it needs 
Harriet, Sarah, and your own dear self to complete 
the ancient picture. I hope we shall get you all 
back before Miss Adams goes away again. Have 
you yet heard a word from that prodigal, — H. ? . . . 
Your affectionate friend, 

Emily E. D. 



20 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1846 

I send you a memento in the form of a pressed 
flower, which you must keep. 

A converted Jew has been lecturing here for the 
last week. His lectures were free, and they were 
on the present condition of the Jews. Dr Scudder, 
a returned missionary, is here now, and he is lec- 
turing also. Have you seen a beautiful piece of 
poetry which has been going through the papers 
lately? Are we almost there ? is the title of it. . . . 
I have two hours to practise daily now I am in 
school. I have been learning a beautiful thing, 
which I long to have you hear. . . . 

Boston, Sept. 8, 1846. 

My dear Friend A., — It is a long, long time 
since I received your welcome letter, and it be- 
comes me to sue for forgiveness, which I am sure 
your affectionate heart will not refuse to grant. But 
many and unforeseen circumstances have caused my 
long delay. . . . Father and mother thought a jour- 
ney would be of service to me, and accordingly I 
left home for Boston week before last. I had a 
delightful ride in the cars, and am now getting 
settled down, if there can be such a state in the 
city. I am visiting in my aunt's family, and am 
happy. Happy ! did I say ? No ; not happy, but 
contented. I have been here a fortnight to-day, 
and in that time I have both seen and heard a great 
many wonderful things. Perhaps you might like to 
know how I have spent the time here. I have 



1846] TO MRS STRONG 21 

been to Mount Auburn, to the Chinese Museum, to 
Bunker Hill ; I have attended two concerts and one 
Horticultural Exhibition. I have been upon the 
top of the State House, and almost everywhere that 
you can imagine. Have you ever been to Mount 
Auburn? If not, you can form but slight con- 
ception of this ' City of the Dead.' It seems as if 
nature had formed this spot with a distinct idea in 
view of its being a resting-place for her children, 
where, wearied and disappointed, they might stretch 
themselves beneath the spreading cypress, and close 
their eyes ' calmly as to a night's repose, or flowers 
at set of sun.* 

The Chinese Museum is a great curiosity. There 
are an endless variety of wax figures made to re- 
semble the Chinese, and dressed in their costume. 
Also articles of Chinese manufacture of an innu- 
merable variety deck the rooms. Two of the 
Chinese go with this exhibition. One of them is a 
professor of music in China, and the other is teacher 
of a writing-school at home. They were both 
wealthy, and not obliged to labor, but they were 
also opium-eaters ; and fearing to continue the prac- 
tice lest it destroyed their lives, yet unable to 
break the ' rigid chain of habit ' in their own land, 
they left their families, and came to this country. 
They have now entirely overcome the practice. 
There is something peculiarly interesting to me in 
their self-denial. The musician played upon two of 
his instruments, and accompanied them with his 



22 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1846 

voice. It needed great command over my risible 
faculties to enable me to keep sober as this amateur 
was performing ; yet he was so very polite to give 
us some of his native music that we could not do 
otherwise than to express ourselves highly edified 
with his performances. The writing-master is con- 
stantly occupied in writing the names of visitors who 
request it, upon cards in the Chinese language, for 
which he charges 12J cents apiece. He never fails 
to give his card besides to the persons who wish it. 
I obtained one of his cards for Viny and myself, and 
I consider them very precious. Are you still in Nor- 
wich, and attending to music ? I am not now taking 
lessons, but I expect to when I return home. 

Does it seem as though September had come? 
How swiftly summer has fled, and what report has 
it borne to heaven of misspent time and wasted 
hours? Eternity only will answer. The ceaseless 
flight of the seasons is to me a very solemn thought ; 
and yet why do we not strive to make a better im- 
provement of them ? With how much emphasis the 
poet has said, * We take no note of time but from 
its loss. 'Twere wise in man to give it then a 
tongue. Pay no moment but in just purchase of its 
worth, and what its worth ask death-beds. They 
can tell. Part with it as with life reluctantly.* 
Then we have higher authority than that of man for 
the improvement of our time. For God has said, 
' Work while the day lasts, for the night is coming in 
the which no man can work.' Let us strive together 



1846] TO MRS STRONG 23 

to part with time more reluctantly, to watch the 
pinions of the fleeting moment until they are dim 
in the distance, and the new-coming moment claims 
our attention. I have perfect confidence in God 
and His promises, and yet I know not why I feel 
that the world holds a predominant place in my 
affections. . . . Your affectionate friend, 

Emily E. D. 

Numerous postscripts are appended, as 
usually : — 

I have really suffered from the heat the last week. 
I think it remarkable that we should have such 
weather in September. There were over one hun- 
dred deaths in Boston last week, a great many of 
them owing to the heat. Mr Taylor, our old 
teacher, was in Amherst at Commencement time. 
Oh, I do love Mr Taylor. It seems so like old 
times to meet Miss Adams and Mr Taylor together 
again. I could hardly refrain from singing, *Auld 
Lang Syne.' It seemed so very a propos. Have 
you forgotten the memorable ride we all took with 
Mr Taylor, * Long, long ago ' ? . . . Austin entered 
college last Commencement. Only think ! I have 
a brother who has the honor to be a Freshman ! 
Will you not promise me that you will come to 
Commencement when he graduates ? Do ! Please ! 
I have altered very much since you were here. I 
am now very tall, and wear long dresses nearly. Do 
you believe we shall know each other when we meet ? 
Don't forget to write soon. E. 



24 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1846 

Sabbath Eve, 1846. 

My dear a., — When I last wrote you I was in 
Boston, where I spent a dehghtful visit of four weeks. 
I returned home about the middle of September in 
very good health and spirits, for which it seems to 
me I cannot be sufficiently grateful to the Giver of 
all mercies. I expected to go into the Academy 
upon my return home, but as I stayed longer than I 
expected to, and as the school had already com- 
menced, I made up my mind to remain at home 
during the fall term and pursue my studies the win- 
ter term, which commences a week after Thanksgiv- 
ing. I kept my good resolution for once in my life, 
and have been sewing, practising upon the piano, 
and assisting mother in household affairs. I am 
anticipating the commencement of the next term 
with a great deal of pleasure, for I have been an 
exile from school two terms on account of my health, 
and you know what it is to Move school.' Miss 
Adams is with us now, and will remain through the 
winter, and we have an excellent Principal in the 
person of Mr Leonard Humphrey, who was the last 
valedictorian. We now have a fine school. I thank 
you a thousand times for your long and affectionate 
letter. ... I found a quantity of sewing waiting 
with open arms to embrace me, or rather for me 
to embrace it, and I could hardly give myself up 
to * Nature's sweet restorer,' for the ghosts of out- 
of-order garments crying for vengeance upon my 



1847] TO MRS STRONG 25 

defenceless head. However, I am happy to mform 
you, my dear friend, that I have nearly finished my 
sewing for winter, and will answer all the letters 
which you shall deem worthy to send so naughty a 
girl as myself, at short notice. . . . 
Write soon. Your affectionate 

Emily E. D. 

[March 15, 1847.] 

Sabbath Eve, 1847. 

Ever dear A., — . . . We have spent our vacation 
of a fortnight, and school has commenced again since 
you wrote me. I go this term, and am studying 
Algebra, Euclid, Ecclesiastical History, and review- 
ing Arithmetic again to be upon the safe side of 
things next autumn. We have a delightful school 
this term under the instruction of our former prin- 
cipals, and Miss R. Woodbridge, daughter of Rev. 
Dr W. of Hadley, for preceptress. We all love 
her very much. Perhaps a slight description of 
her might be interesting to my dear A. She is 
tall and rather slender, but finely proportioned, 
has a most witching pair of blue eyes, rich brown 
hair, delicate complexion, cheeks which vie with the 
opening rose-bud, teeth like pearls, dimples which 
come and go like the ripples in yonder little merry 
brook, and then she is so affectionate and lovely. 
Forgive my glowing description, for you know I am 
always in love with my teachers. Yet, much as we 



26 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1847 

love her, it seems lonely and strange without 'our 
dear Miss Adams.' I suppose you know that she 
has left Amherst, not again to return as a teacher. 
It is indeed true that she is to be married. Are you 
not astonished? Nothing was known but that she 
was to return to the school, until a few days before 
she left for Syracuse, where she has gone to make her 
* wedding gear.' She is to be married the first of 
next April, to a very respectable lawyer in Conway, 
Massachusetts. She seemed to be very happy in 
anticipation of her future prospects, and I hope she 
will realize all her fond hopes. I cannot bear to 
think that she will never more wield the sceptre and 
sit upon the throne in our venerable schoolhouse, 
and yet I am glad she is going to have a home of 
her own, and a kind companion to take life's journey 
with her. I am delighted that she is to live so near 
us, for we can ride up and see her often. You can- 
not imagine how much I enjoyed your description 
of your Christmas fete at Miss Campbell's. How 
magnificent the * Christmas tree' must have been, 
and what a grand time you must have had, so many 
of you ! Oh ! ! 

I had a great many presents, Christmas and New 
Year's holidays, both, but we had no such celebra- 
tion of the former which you describe. ... Do write 
me soon — a long letter — and tell me how soon you 
are coming, and how long we can keep you when 
you come. Your affectionate 

Emily E. Dickinson. 



i847] TO MRS STRONG 2/ 



Mt Holyoke Seminary, Nov. 6, 1847. 

My dear a., — I am really at Mount Holyoke 
Seminary, and this is to be my home for a long year. 
Your affectionate letter was joyfully received, and I 
wish that this might make you as happy as yours did 
me. It has been nearly six weeks since I left home, 
and that is a longer time than I was ever away from 
home before now. I was very homesick for a few 
days, and it seemed to me I could not live here. 
But I am now contented and quite happy, if I can 
be happy when absent from my dear home and 
friends. You may laugh at the idea that I cannot 
be happy when away from home, but you must 
remember that I have a very dear home and that 
this is my first trial in the way of absence for any 
length of time in my life. As you desire it, I will 
give you a full account of myself since I first left the 
paternal roof. I came to South Hadley six weeks ago 
next Thursday. I was much fatigued with the ride, 
and had a severe cold besides, which prevented me 
from commencing my examinations until the next 
day, when I began. I finished them in three days, 
and found them about what I had anticipated, though 
the old scholars say they are more strict than they 
ever have been before. As you can easily imagine, 
I was much delighted to finish without failures, and 
I came to the conclusion then, that I should not be 
at all homesick, but the reaction left me as homesick 
a girl as it is not usual to see. I am now quite con- 



28 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1847 

tented and am very much occupied in reviewing the 
Junior studies, as I wish to enter the middle class. 
The school is very large, and though quite a number 
have left, on account of finding the examinations 
more difficult than they anticipated, yet there are 
nearly 300 now. Perhaps you know that Miss 
Lyon is raising her standard of scholarship a good 
deal, on account of the number of applicants this 
year, and she makes the examinations more severe 
than usual. 

You cannot imagine how trying they are, because 
if we cannot go through them all in a specified time, 
we are sent home. I cannot be too thankful that I 
got through as soon as I did, and I am sure that I 
never would endure the suspense which I endured 
during those three days again for all the treasures of 
the world. 

I room with my cousin Emily, who is a Senior. 
She is an excellent room-mate, and does all in her 
power to make me happy. You can imagine how 
pleasant a good room-mate is, for you have been 
away to school so much. Everything is pleasant and 
happy here, and I think I could be no happier at 
any other school away from home. Things seem 
much more like home than I anticipated, and the 
teachers are all very kind and affectionate to us. 
They call on us frequently and urge us to return 
their calls, and when we do, we always receive a cor- 
dial welcome from them. I will tell you my order 
of time for the day, as you were so kind as to give 



1847] TO MRS STRONG 29 

me yours. At 6 o'clock we all rise. We breakfast 
at 7. Our study hours begin at 8. At 9 we all meet 
in Seminary Hall for devotions. At loj I recite a 
review of Ancient History, in connection with which 
we read Goldsmith and Grimshaw. At 11, I recite 
a lesson in Pope's Essay on Man, which is merely 
transposition. At 12 I practise calisthenics, and at 
12J read until dinner, which is at 12 J, and after 
dinner, from \\ until 2, I sing in Seminary Hall. 
From 2 1 until 3J I practise upon the piano. At 3I 
I go to Sections, where we give in all our accounts 
for the day, including absence, tardiness, communi- 
cations, breaking silent study hours, receiving com- 
pany in our rooms, and ten thousand other things 
which I will not take time or place to mention. At 
4|- we go into Seminary Hall and receive advice from 
Miss Lyon in the form of a lecture. We have supper 
at 6, and silent study hours from then until the retir- 
ing bell, which rings at 8 j, but the tardy bell does 
not ring until 9I, so that we don't often obey the 
first warning to retire. Unless we have a good and 
reasonable excuse for failure upon any of the items 
that I mentioned above, they are recorded and a 
black mark stands against our names. As you can 
easily imagine, we do not like very well to get * excep- 
tions,' as they are called scientifically here. 

My domestic work is not difficult and consists 
in carrying the knives from the first tier of tables 
at morning and noon, and at night washing and 
wiping the same quantity of knives. I am quite 



30 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1847 

well and hope to be able to spend the year here, 
free from sickness. You have probably heard many 
reports of the food here ; and if so, I can tell you 
that I have yet seen nothing corresponding to my 
ideas on that point from what I have heard. Every- 
thing is wholesome and abundant and much nicer 
than I should imagine could be provided for almost 
300 girls. We have also a great variety upon our 
tables and frequent changes. One thing is certain, 
and that is, that Miss Lyon and all the teachers 
seem to consult our comfort and happiness in 
everything they do, and you know that is pleasant. 
When I left home I did not think I should find a 
companion or a dear friend in all the multitude. I 
expected to find rough and uncultivated manners, 
and, to be sure, I have found some of that stamp, 
but on the whole, there is an ease and grace, a desire 
to make one another happy, which dehghts and at 
the same time surprises me very much. I find no 
Abby nor Abiah nor Mary, but I love many of the 
girls. Austin came to see me when I had been here 
about two weeks, and brought Viny and A. I need 
not tell you how delighted I was to see them all, nor 
how happy it made me to hear them say that 'they 
were so lonely' It is a sweet feeling to know that 
you are missed and that your memory is precious at 
home. This week, on Wednesday, I was at my win- 
dow, when I happened to look towards the hotel 
and saw father and mother, walking over here as 
dignified as you please. I need not tell you that I 



1848] TO MRS STRONG 3 1 

danced and clapped my hands, and flew to meet 
them, for you can imagine how I felt. I will only 
ask you, do you love your parents? They wanted 
to surprise me, and for that reason did not let me 
know they were coming. I could not bear to have 
them go, but go they must, and so I submitted in 
sadness. Only to think that in 2^ weeks I shall be 
at my own dear home again. You will probably go 
home at Thanksgiving time, and we can rejoice with 
each other. 

You don't [know] how I laughed at your descrip- 
tion of your introduction to Daniel Webster, and I 
read that part of your letter to cousin Emily. You 
must feel quite proud of the acquaintance, and will 
not, I hope, be vain in consequence. However, you 
don't know Governor Briggs, and I do, so you are no 
better off than I. . . . A., you must write me often, 
and I shall write you as often as I have time. . . . 
From your affectionate 

Emily E. D. 

Mt Holyoke Female Seminary, Jan. 17, 1848. 

My dear a., — Your welcome epistle found me 
upon the eve of going home, and it is needless to 
say very happy. We all went home on Wednesday 
before Thanksgiving, and a stormy day it was, but 
the storm must not be in our way, so we tried to 
make the best of it and look as cheerful as we 
could. Many of the girls went very early in the 
morning in order to reach home the same day, and 



32 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1848 

when we all sat down to the breakfast table, it 
seemed lonely enough to see so many places vacant. 
After breakfast, as we were not required to keep all 
the family rules, a number of us met together at 
one of the windows in the Hall to watch for our 
friends, whom we were constantly expecting. No 
morning of my Hfe ever passed so slowly to me, and 
it really seemed to me they never were coming, so 
impatiently did I wait their arrival. At last, almost 
tired out, I spied a carriage in the distance, and 
surely Austin was in it. You, who have been away 
so much, can easily imagine my delight and will not 
laugh, when I tell you how I dashed downstairs and 
almost frightened my dignified brother out of his 
senses. All was ready in a moment or less than a 
moment, and cousin Emily and myself, not for- 
getting the driver, were far on our way towards 
home. The rain fell in torrents and the wind 
howled around the sides of the mountain over our 
heads, and the brooks below, filled by the rain, 
rushed along their pebbly beds almost frightfully, 
yet nothing daunted, we rode swiftly along, and 
soon the colleges and the spire of our venerable 
meeting-house rose to my delighted vision. 

Never did Amherst look more lovely to me, and 
gratitude rose in my heart to God, for granting me 
such a safe return to my own dear home. Soon the 
carriage stopped in front of our own house, and all 
were at the door to welcome the returned one, from 
mother, with tears in her eyes, down to pussy, who 



1848] TO MRS STRONG 33 

tried to look as gracious as was becoming her dignity. 
Oh, A., it was the first meeting, as it had been the 
first separation, and it was a joyful one to all of us. 
The storm did not at all subside that night, but in 
the morning I was waked by the glorious sunshine 
[it] self, staring full in my face. We went to church 
in the morning and listened to an excellent sermon 
from our own minister, Mr Colton. At noon we 
returned and had a nice dinner, which, you well 
know, cannot be dispensed with on Thanksgiving 
day. We had several calls in the afternoon, and 
had four invitations out for the evening. Of course 
we could not accept them all, much to my sorrow, 
but decided to make two visits. At about 7 o'clock 
father, mother, Austin, Viny, cousin Emily, and my- 
self to bring up the rear, went down to Professor 
Warner's, where we spent an hour delightfully with 
a few friends, and then bidding them good eve, we 
young folks went down to Mrs S. M.'s, accompanied 
by sister Mary. There was quite a company of 
young people assembled when we arrived, and after 
we had played many games we had, in familiar terms, 
a 'candy scrape.' We enjoyed the evening much, 
and returned not until the clock pealed out, 'Remem- 
ber ten o'clock, my dear, remember ten o'clock.' 
After our return, father wishing to hear the piano, 
I, like an obedient daughter, played and sang a few 
tunes, much to his apparent gratification. We then 
retired, and the next day and the next were as hap- 
pily spent as the eventful Thanksgiving day itself. 



34 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1848 

You will probably think me foolish thus to give 
you an inventory of my time while at home, but I 
did enjoy so much in those short four days that 
I wanted you to know and enjoy it too. Monday 
came so soon, and with it came a carriage to our 
door, and amidst tears falling thick and fast away I 
went again. Slowly and sadly dragged a few of the 
days after my return to the Seminary, and I was very 
homesick, but * after a storm there comes a calm,' 
and so it was in my case. My sorrows were soon 
lost in study, and I again felt happy, if happiness 
there can be away from * home, sweet home.' 

Our term closes this week on Thursday, and Fri- 
day I hope to see home and friends once more. I 
have studied hard this term, and aside from my 
delight at going home, there is a sweetness in ap- 
proaching rest to me. This term is the longest in 
the year, and I would not wish to live it over again, 
I can assure you. I love this Seminary, and all the 
teachers are bound strongly to my heart by ties of 
affection. There are many sweet girls here, and 
dearly do I love some new faces, but I have not 
yet found the place of 2, few dear ones filled, nor 
would I wish it to be here. I am now studying 
Silliman's Chemistry and Cutter's Physiology, in both 
of which I am much interested. We finish Physi- 
ology before this term closes, and are to be examined 
in it at the spring examinations, about five weeks 
after the commencement of the next term. I 
already begin to dread that time, for an examination 



1848] TO MRS STRONG 35 

in Mount Holyoke Seminary is rather more public 
than in our old academy, and a failure would be 
more disgraceful then, I opine ; but I hope, to use 
my father's own words, 'that I shall not disgrace 
myself.' What are you studying now? You did not 
mention that item in your last letters to me, and 
consequently I am quite in the dark as regards your 
progress in those affairs. All I can say is, that I 
hope you will not leave poor me far behind. . . . 
Your affectionate sister^ 

Emily E. Dickinson. 

P. S. Our Section have commenced reading com- 
positions, and we read once in a month, during 
which time we write two. 

Intellectual brilliancy of an individual type 
was already at seventeen her distinguishing 
characteristic, and nothing of the recluse was 
yet apparent. Traditions of extraordinary 
compositions still remain ; and it is certain 
that each was an epoch for those who heard, 
whether teachers or pupils. An old friend 
and schoolmate of Emily tells me that she 
was always surrounded by a group of girls at 
recess, to hear her strange and intensely funny 
stories, invented upon the spot. 



36 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1848 



Mt Holyoke Female Seminary, May 16, 1848. 

My dear a., — You must forgive me, indeed you 
must, that I have so long delayed to write you, and 
I doubt not you will when I give you all m.y reasons 
for so doing. You know it is customary for the first 
page to be occupied with apologies, and I must not 
depart from the beaten track for one of my own 
imagining. ... I had not been very well all winter, 
but had not written home about it, lest the folks 
should take me home. During the week following 
examinations, a friend from Amherst came over and 
spent a week with me, and when that friend returned 
home, father and mother were duly notified of the 
state of my health. Have you so treacherous a 
friend ? 

Not knowing that I was to be reported at home, you 
can imagine my amazement and consternation when 
Saturday of the same week Austin arrived in full sail, 
with orders from head-quarters to bring me home 
at all events. At first I had recourse to words, and 
a desperate battle with those weapons was waged 
for a few moments, between my Sophofnore brother 
and myself. Finding words of no avail, I next 
resorted to tears. But woman's tears are of little 
avail, and I am sure mine flowed in vain. As you 
can imagine, Austin was victorious, and poor, de- 
feated I was led off in triumph. You must not 
imbibe the idea from what I have said that I do 
not love home — far from it. But I could not bear 



1848] TO MRS STRONG 37 

to leave teachers and companions before the close 
of the term and go home to be dosed and receive 
the physician daily, and take warm drinks and be 
condoled with on the state of health in general by 
all the old ladies in town. 

Have n't I given a ludicrous account of going 
home sick from a boarding-school? Father is quite 
a hand to give medicine, especially if it is not 
desirable to the patient, and I was dosed for about 
a month after my return home, without any mercy, 
till at last out of mere pity my cough went away, and 
I had quite a season of peace. Thus I remained 
at home until the close of the term, comforting my 
parents by my presence, and instilling many a les- 
son of wisdom into the budding intellect of my only 
sister. I had almost forgotten to tell you that I 
went on with my studies at home, and kept up with 
my class. Last Thursday our vacation closed, and 
on Friday morn, midst the weeping of friends, crow- 
ing of roosters, and singing of birds, I again took 
my departure from home. Five days have now 
passed since we returned to Holyoke, and they 
have passed very slowly. Thoughts of home and 
friends 'come crowding thick and fast, like light- 
nings from the mountain cloud,' and it seems very 
desolate. 

Father has decided not to send me to Holyoke 
another year, so this is my last term. Can it be 
possible that I have been here almost a year? It 
startles me when I really think of the advantages I 



38 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1848 

have had, and I fear I have not improved them as 
I ought. But many an hour has fled with its report 
to heaven, and what has been the tale of me ? . . . 
How glad I am that spring has come, and how it 
calms my mind when wearied with study to walk out 
in the green fields and beside the pleasant streams 
in which South Hadley is rich ! There are not many 
wild flowers near, for the girls have driven them to 
a distance, and we are obliged to walk quite a dis- 
tance to find them, but they repay us by their sweet 
smiles and fragrance. 

i The older I grow, the more do I love spring and 
spring flowers. Is it so with you? While at home 
there were several pleasure parties of which I was 
a member, and in our rambles we found many and 
beautiful children of spring, which I will mention 
and see if you have found them, — the trailing arbu- 
tus, adder's tongue, yellow violets, liver-leaf, blood- 
root, and many other smaller flowers. 

What are you reading now? I have little time to 
read when I am here, but while at home I had a feast 
in the reading line, I can assure you. Two or three 
of them I will mention : Evangeline, The Princess, 
The Maiden Aunt, The Epicurean, and The Twins 
and Heaj't by Tupper, complete the list. Am not 
I a pedant for telling you what I have been read- 
ing ? Have you forgotten your visit at Amherst last 
summer, and what delightful times we had ? I have 
not, and I hope you will come and make another 
and a longer, when I get home from Holyoke. 



1850] TO MRS STRONG 39 

Father wishes to have me at home a year, and then 
he will probably send me away again, where I know 
not. . . . 

Ever your own affectionate 

Emilie E. Dickinson. 

P. S. My studies for this series are Astronomy 
and Rhetoric, which take me through to the Senior 
studies. What are you studying now, if you are in 
school, and do you attend to music? I practise 
only one hour a day this term. 

Although nearly two years elapse between 
the last letter and the following, the hand- 
writing is quite unaltered, being still exceed- 
ingly small and clear, and averaging twenty 
words to a line. 

Amherst, Jan. 29, 1850. 

Very dear A., — The folks have all gone away ; 
they thought that they left me alone, and contrived 
things to amuse me should they stay long, and / 
be lonely. Lonely, indeed, — they did n't look, and 
they could n't have seen if they had, who should 
bear me company. Th^'ee here, instead of one, 
would n't it scare them ? A curious trio, part 
earthly and part spiritual two of us, the other, all 
heaven, and no earth. God is sitting here, looking 
into my very soul to see if I think right thoughts. 
Yet I am not afraid, for I try to be right and 



40 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1850 

good ; and He knows every one of my struggles. He 
looks very gloriously, and everything bright seems dull 
beside Him ; and I don't dare to look directly at 
Him for fear I shall die. Then you are here, 
dressed in that quiet black gown and cap, — that 
funny little cap I used to laugh at you about, — and 
you don't appear to be thinking about anything 
in particular, — not in one of your breaking- dish 
moods, I take it. You seem aware that I 'm 
writing you, and are amused, I should think, at 
any such friendly manifestation when you are al- 
ready present. Success, however, even in making 
a fool of myself, is n't to be despised ; so I shall 
persist in writing, and you may in laughing at me, — 
if you are fully aware of the value of time as regards 
your immortal spirit. I can't say that I advise you 
to laugh ; but if you are punished, and I warned 
you, that can be no business of mine. So I fold 
up my arms, and leave you to fate — may it deal 
very kindly with you ! The trinity winds up with 
me, as you may have surmised, and I certainly 
would n't be at the fag-end but for civility to you. 
This self-sacrificing spirit will be the ruin of me ! 

I am occupied principally with a cold just now, 
and the dear creature will have so much attention 
that my time slips away amazingly. It has heard 
so much of New Englanders, of their kind atten- 
tions to strangers, that it 's come all the way from 
the Alps to determine the truth of the tale. It says 
the half was n't told it, and I begin to be afraid it 



1850J TO MRS STRONG 4 1 

was n't. Only think — came all the way from that 
distant Switzerland to find what was the truth ! Neither 
husband, protector, nor friend accompanied it, and 
so utter a state of loneliness gives friends if nothing 
else. You are dying of curiosity ; let me arrange that 
pillow to make your exit easier. I stayed at home 
all Saturday afternoon, and treated some disagree- 
able people who insisted upon calling here as toler- 
ably as I could ; when evening shades began to fall, I 
turned upon my heel, and walked. Attracted by 
the gayety visible in the street, I still kept walking 
till a little creature pounced upon a thin shawl I 
wore, and commenced riding. I stopped, and 
begged the creature to alight, as I was fatigued 
already, and quite unable to assist others. It 
would n't get down, and commenced talking to 
itself: 'Can't be New England — must have made 
some mistake — disappointed in my reception — don't 
agree with accounts. Oh, what a world of decep- 
tion and fraud ! Marm, will you tell me the name 
of this country — it's Asia Minor, isn't it? I 
intended to stop in New England.' By this time 
I was so completely exhausted that I made no fur- 
ther effort to rid me of my load, and travelled home 
at a moderate jog, paying no attention whatever to 
it, got into the house, threw off both bonnet and 
shawl, and out flew my tormentor, and putting both 
arms around my neck, began to kiss me immoder- 
ately, and express so much love it completely 
bewildered me. Since then it has slept in my bed. 



42 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1850 

eaten from my plate, lived with me everywhere, 
and will tag me through life for all I know. I 
think I '11 wake first, and get out of bed, and leave 
it ; but early or late, it is dressed before me, and 
sits on the side of the bed looking right into my 
face with such a comical expression it almost makes 
me laugh in spite of myself. I can't call it inter- 
esting, but it certainly is curious, has two peculiar- 
ities which would quite win your heart, — a huge 
pocket-handkerchief and a very red nose. The 
first seems so very abundant^ it gives you the idea 
of independence and prosperity in business. The 
last brings up the ^jovial bowl, my boys,' and such 
an association 's worth the having. If it ever gets 
tired of me, I will forward it to you — you would 
love it for my sake, if not for its own ; it will tell 
you some queer stories about me, — how I sneezed 
so loud one night that the family thought the last 
trump was sounding, and climbed into the currant- 
bushes to get out of the way ; how the rest of the 
people, arrayed in long night-gowns, folded their 
arms, and were waiting ; but this is a wicked story, 
— it can tell some better ones. Now, my dear 
friend, let me tell you that these last thoughts are 
fictions, — vain imaginations to lead astray foolish 
young women. They are flowers of speech ; they 
both make and tell deliberate falsehoods ; avoid 
them as the snake, and turn aside as from the 
rattle-snake, and I don't think you will be harmed. 
Honestly, though, a snake-bite is a serious matter, 



1850] TO MRS STRONG 43 

and there can't be too much said or done about 
it. The big serpent bites the deepest ; and we get 
so accustomed to its bites that we don't mind 
about them. * Verily I say unto you, fear him.^ 
Won't you read some work upon snakes ? — I have 
a real anxiety for you. / love those little green 
ones that slide around by your shoes in the grass, 
and make it rustle with their elbows ; they are 
rather my favorites on the whole ; but I would n't 
influence you for the world. There is an air of 
misanthropy about the striped snake that will com- 
mend itself at once to your taste, — there is no 
monotony about it — but we will more of this again. 
Something besides severe colds and serpents, and 
we will try to find that something. It can't be 
a garden, can it? or a strawberry-bed, which rather 
belongs to a garden; nor it can't be a school- 
house, nor an attorney-at-law. Oh, dear ! I don't 
know what it is. Love for the absent don't sound 
like it ; but try it, and see how it goes. 

I miss you very much indeed ; think of you at 
night when the world 's nodding, nid, nid, nodding 
— think of you in the daytime when the cares of the 
world, and its toils, and its continual vexations 
choke up the love for friends in some of our 
hearts ; remember your warnings sometimes — try 
to do as you told me sometimes — and sometimes 
conclude it 's no use to try ; then my heart says it 
is^ and new trial is followed by disappointment 
again. I wondered, when you had gone, why we 



44 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1S50 

did n't talk more, — it was n't for want of a subject ; 
it never could de for that. Too many, perhaps, — 
such a crowd of people that nobody heard the 
speaker, and all went away discontented. You 
astonished me in the outset, perplexed me in the 
continuance, and wound up in a grand snarl I 
shall be all my pilgrimage unravelling. Rather a 
dismal prospect certainly ; but * it 's always the 
darkest the hour before day,' and this earher 
sunset promises an earlier rise — a sun in splen- 
dor — and glory, flying out of its purple nest. 
Would n't you love to see God's bird, when it first 
tries its wings? If you were here I would tell you 
something — several somethings — which have hap- 
pened since you went away; but time and space, 
as usual, oppose themselves, and I put my treas- 
ures away till ' we two meet again.' The hope 
that I shall continue in love towards you, and vice 
versa, will sustain me till then. If you are think- 
ing soon to go away, and to show your face no 
more, just inform me, will you? I would have the 
' long, hngering look,' which you cast behind, — it 
would be an invaluable addition to my treasures, 
and ' keep your memory green.' ' Lord, keep 
all our memories green,' and help on our affection, 
and tie the Mink that doth us bind' in a tight 
.bow-knot that will keep it from separation, and stop 
us from growing old; if that is impossible, make 
old age pleasant to us, put its arms around us 



1850] TO MRS STRONG 45 

kindly, and when we go home, let that home be 
called heaven. 

Your very sincere and wicked friend, 

Emily E. Dickinson.' 

I have n't thanked you for your letter yet, but not 
for want of gratitude. I will do so now most sin- 
cerely, most heartily — gladly and gratefully. You 
will write me another soon, that I may have four 
right feelings again ! They don't come for the 
asking. I have been introducing you to me in this 
letter so far ; we will traffic in ' joys ' and ' sor- 
rows ' some other day. Colds make one very 
carnal, and the spirit is always afraid of them. You 
will excuse all mistakes in view of ignorance ; all 
sin, in view of ' the fall ; ' all want of friendly affec- 
tion, in the sight of the verse, * The deepest stream 
the stillest runs ; ' and other general deficiencies, on 
the ground of universal incapacity ! Here is surely 
room for charity, and the heavenly visitor would n't 
have come but for these faults. ' No loss without 
a gain.' I called to see your cousins an evening 
since ; they were well, and evidently delighted to 
see one another — and us. 

When your letter came, I had two Western 
cousins — now at South Hadley Seminary — staying 
their vacation with me. They took an unbounded 
delight in a sentence I read them ; and to pay for 
it, send you their love. 



46 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1850 

In the following letter appear farther traces 
of the later and almost invariable custom of 
using dashes, instead of conventional punctua- 
tion. These, however, will not be given gen- 
erally. In printing her poems it was found 
necessary to employ usual punctuation, in order 
that the meaning should be more easily ap- 
prehended ; and in the letters the same system, 
often for the same reason, has been adopted. 

Amherst, May 7, 1850. 

Dear Remembered, — The circumstances under 
which I write you this morning are at once glorious, 
afflicting, and beneficial, — glorious in ends, afflict- 
ing in means, and beneficial, I trust, in both. Twin 
loaves of bread have just been born into the world 
under my auspices, — fine children, the image of 
their mother; and here, my dear friend, is the 
glory. 

On the lounge, asleep, lies my sick mother, suf- 
fering intensely from acute neuralgia, except at a 
moment like this, when kind sleep draws near, and 
beguiles her, — here is the affliction. 

I need not draw the beneficial inference, — the 
good I myself derive, the winning the spirit of 
patience, the genial housekeeping influence stealing 
over my mind and soul, — you know all these 
things I would say, and will seem to suppose they 
are written, when indeed they are only thought. 



1850] TO MRS STRONG 47 

On Sunday my mother was taken, had been per- 
fectly well before, and could remember no possible 
imprudence which should have induced the dis- 
ease. Everything has been done, and though we 
think her gradually throwing it off, she still has 
much suffering. I have always neglected the cu- 
linary arts, but attend to them now from neces- 
sity, and from a desire to make everything pleasant 
for father and Austin. Sickness makes desolation, 
and the day is dark and dreary; but health will 
come back, I hope, and light hearts and smiling 
faces. We are sick hardly ever at home, and don't 
know what to do when it comes, — wrinkle our 
little brows, and stamp with our little feet, and 
our tiny souls get angry, and command it to go 
away. Mrs Brown will be glad to see it, — old 
ladies expect to die ; ' as for us^ the young and 
active, with all longings "for the strife," 7ve to 
perish by the roadside, weary with the " march of 
life " — no, no, my dear " Father Mortality," get 
out of the way if you please ; we will call if we 
ever want you. Good-morning, sir ! ah, good- y 
morning ! ' 

When I am not at work, I sit by the side of 
mother, provide for her little wants, and try to 
cheer and encourage her. I ought to be glad and 
grateful that I can do anything now, but I do feel 
so very lonely, and so anxious to have her cured. 
I have n't repined but once, and you shall know 
all the why. At noon ... I heard a well-known 



48 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1850 

rap, and a friend I love so dearly came and asked 
me to ride in the woods, the sweet, still woods, 
— and I wanted to exceedingly. I told him I 
could not go, and he said he was disappointed, he 
wanted me very much. Then the tears came 
into my eyes, though I tried to choke them back, 
and he said I could and should go, and it seemed 
to me unjust. Oh, I struggled with great temp- 
tation, and it cost me much of denial ; but I think 
in the end I conquered, — not a glorious victory, 
where you hear the rolling drum, but a kind of 
a helpless victory, where triumph would come of 
itself, faintest music, weary soldiers, nor a waving 
flag, nor a long, loud shout. I had read of Christ's 
temptations, and how they were like our own, only 
he did n't sin ; I wondered if one was like mine, 
and whether it made him angry. I couldn't make 
up my mind ; do you think he ever did ? 

I went cheerfully round ray work, humming a 
little air till mother had gone to sleep, then cried 
with all my might — seemed to think I was much 
abused — that this wicked world was unworthy such 
devoted and terrible suffering — and came to my 
various senses in great dudgeon at Hfe, and time, and 
love for affliction and anguish. 

What shall we do, my darling, when trial grows 
more and more, when the dim, lone light expires, 
and it 's dark, so very dark, and we wander, and 
know not where, and cannot get out of the for- 
est — whose is the hand to help us, and to lead, 



1850] TO MRS STRONG 49 

and forever guide us; they talk of a * Jesus of 
Nazareth ' — will you tell me if it be he ? . . . 

It 's Friday, my dear A., and that in another week, 
yet my mission is unfulfilled — and you so sadly 
neglected, and don't know the reason why. Where 
do you think I Ve strayed, and from what new 
errand returned ? I have come from ' to and fro, 
and walking up and down ' the same place that 
Satan hailed from, when God asked him where 
he 'd been ; but not to illustrate further, I tell you 
I have been dreaming, dreaming a golden dream, 
with eyes all the while wide open, and I guess it 's 
almost morning ; and besides, I have been at work, 
providing the * food that perisheth,' scaring the 
timorous dust, and being obedient and kind. I am 
yet the Queen of the Court, if regalia be dust and 
dirt, have three loyal subjects, whom I 'd rather 
relieve from service. Mother is still an invalid, 
though a partially restored one ; father and Austin 
still clamor for food ; and I, like a martyr, am feed- 
ing them. Would n't you love to see me in these 
bonds of great despair, looking around my kitchen, 
and praying for kind deliverance, and declaring by 
* Omai's beard ' I never was in such plight ? My 
kitchen, I think I called it — God forbid that it 
was, or shall be, my own — God keep me from what 
they call households, except that bright one of 
' faith ' ! 

Don't be afraid of my imprecations — they never 
did any one harm, and they make me feel so cool, 

VOL. I. — 4 



50 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1851 

and so very much more comfortable ! . . . I 
presume you are loving your mother, and loving 
the stranger and wanderer — visiting the poor and 
afflicted, and reaping whole fields of blessings — 
save me a little sheaf, only a very little one ! Re- 
member and care for me sometimes, and scatter a 
fragrant flower in this wilderness life of mine by 
writing me, and by not forgetting, and by lingering 
longer in prayer, that the Father may bless one more ! 
Your affectionate friend, 

Emily. 

Mr Humphrey, spoken of in the following 
letter, is the same friend of whom Emily had 
already written (page 34) ; he graduated from 
Amherst as valedictorian in 1846, being subse- 
quently Principal of the well-known Amherst 
Academy, and still later a theological student 
at Andover, and tutor in Amherst College. 
His sudden death, November 30, 1850, caused 
much grief to his many friends, who admired his 
polished scholarship and lovable personality. 

[Amherst, January 2, 1851.] 

Tuesday Evening. 

I write A. to-night, because it is cool and quiet, 
and I can forget the toil and care of the feverish 
day, and then I am selfish too, because I am feeling 
lonely ; some of my friends are gone, and some of 
my friends are sleeping — sleeping the churchyard 



1851] TO MRS STRONG 5 1 

sleep — the hour of evening is sad — it was once my 
study hour — my master has gone to rest, and the 
open leaf of the book, and the scholar at school 
alone, make the tears come, and I cannot brush 
them away; I would not if I could, for they are 
the only tribute I can pay the departed Humphrey. 

Yott have stood by the grave before ; I have walked 
there sweet summer evenings and read the names 
on the stones, and wondered who would come and 
give me the same memorial ; but I never have laid 
my friends there, and forgot that they too must die ; 
this is my first affliction, and indeed 'tis hard to 
bear it. To those bereaved so often that home is 
no more here, and whose communion with friends 
is had only in prayers, there must be much to hope 
for, but when the unreconciled spirit has nothing left 
but God, that spirit is lone indeed. I don't think 
there will be any sunshine, or any singing-birds in 
the spring that 's coming. ... I will try not to say 
any more — my rebellious thoughts are many, and 
the friend I love and trust in has much now to for- 
give. I wish I were somebody else — I would pray 
the prayer of the ' Pharisee,' but I am a poor little 
'Publican.' 'Son of David,' look down on me ! 

'Twas a great while ago when you wrote me, I 
remember the leaves were falling — and now there 
are falling snows ; who maketh the two to differ — 
are not leaves the brethren of snows? 

Then it can't be a great while since then, though 
I verily thought it was ; we are not so young as we 



52 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1851 

once were, and time seems to be growing long. I 
dream of being a grandame, and banding my silver 
hairs, and I seem to be quite submissive to the 
thought of growing old ; no doubt you ride rocking- 
horses in your present as in young sleeps — quite 
a pretty contrast indeed, of me braiding my own 
gray hairs, and my friend at play with her childhood, 
a pair of decayed old ladies ! Where are you, my 
antique friend, or my very dear and young one — 
just as you please to please — it may seem quite 
a presumption that I address you at all, knowing 
^not if you habit here, or if my *bird has flown' in 
which world her wing is folded. When I think of 
the friends I love, and the little while we may 
dwell here, and then 'we go away,' I have a yearn- 
ing feeling, a desire eager and anxious lest any 
be stolen away, so that I cannot behold them. I 
would have you here, all here, where I can see you, 
and hear you, and where I can say * Oh, no,' if the 
*Son of Man' ever 'cometh' ! 

It is not enough, now and then, at long and uncer- 
tain intervals to hear you 're alive and well. I do not 
care for the body, I love the timid soul, the blush- 
ing, shrinking soul ; it hides, for it is afraid, and the 
bold, obtrusive body — Pray, marm, did you call 
7ne ? We are very small, A. — I think we grow still 
smaller — this tiny, insect life the portal to another ; 
it seems strange — strange indeed. I 'm afraid we 
are all unworthy, yet we shall ' enter in.' 

I can think of no other way than for you, my dear 



1851] TO MRS STRONG 53 

girl, to come here — we are growing away from each 
other, and talk even now like strangers. To forget 
the ^meum and teum,' dearest friends must meet 
sometimes, and then comes the ' bond of the spirit ' 
which, if I am correct, is 'unity.' 

. . . You are growing wiser than I am, and nip- 
ping in the bud fancies which I let blossom — per- 
chance to bear no fruit, or if plucked, I may find it 
bitter. The shore is safer, A., but I love to buffet 
the sea — I can count the bitter wrecks here in these 
pleasant waters, and hear the murmuring winds, but 
oh, I love the danger ! You are learning control and 
firmness. Christ Jesus will love you more. I 'm 
afraid he don't love me any / . . . Write when you 
will, my friend, and forget all amiss herein, for as 
these few imperfect words to the full communion 
of spirits, so this small giddy life to the better, the 
life eternal, and that we may live this life, and be 
filled with this true communion, I shall not cease to 
pray. E. 

[August, 1851.] 

Tuesday Evening. 

* Yet a little while I am with you, and again a lit- 
tle while and I am 7iot with you,' because you go to 
your mother ! . . . But the virtue of the text con- 
sists in this, my dear, that ' if I go, I come again, 
and ye shall be with me where I am ; ' that is to say, 
that if you come in November, you shall be mine, 
and I shall be thine, and so on, vice versa, until ad 



54 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1851 

infinitiDn, which is n't a great way off. While I 
think of it, my dear friend, and we are upon these 
subjects, allow me to remark that you have the fun- 
niest manner of popping into town, and the most 
lamentable manner of popping out again, of any 
one I know. It really becomes to me a matter of 
serious moment, this propensity of yours concerning 
your female friends — the ' morning cloud and the 
early dew' are not more evanescent. 

I think it was Tuesday evening that we were so 
amused by the oratorical feats of three or four young 
gentlemen. I remember I sat by you and took 
great satisfaction in such seat and society — I re- 
member further our mutual good-nights, our prom- 
ises to meet again, to tell each other tales of our 
own heart and life, to seek and find each other after 
so long a time of distant separation. I can hardly 
realize that these are recollections, that our happy 
to-day joins the great band of yesterdays and marches 
on to the dead — too quickly flown, my bird, for 
me to satisfy me that you did sit and sing beneath 
my chamber window ! I only went out once after 
the time I saw you — the morning of Mr Beecher I 
looked for you in vain. I discovered your Palmer 
cousins, but if you indeed were there, it must have 
been in a form to my gross sense impalpable. I 
was disappointed. I had been hoping much a little 
visit from you ; when will the hour be that we 
shall sit together and talk of what we were and what 
we are and may be — with the shutters closed, dear 



1851] TO MRS STRONG 55 

A., and the balmiest little breeze stealing in at the 
window? I love those little fancies, yet I would 
love them more were they not quite so fanciful as 
they have seemed to be. I have fancied so many 
times, and so many times gone home to find it was 
only fancy, that I am half afraid to hope for what I 
long for. It would seem, my dear A., that out of 
all the moments crowding this Httle world, a few 
might be vouchsafed to spend with those we love — 
a separated hour, an hour more pure and true than 
ordinary hours, when we could pause a moment, 
before we journey on. We had a pleasant time talk- 
ing the other morning — had I known it was all 
my portion, mayhap I 'd improved it more, but it 
never '11 come back again to try, whether or no. 
Don't you think sometimes these brief, imperfect 
meetings have a tale to tell — perhaps but for the 
sorrow which accompanies them we should not be 
reminded of brevity and change, and should build 
the dwelling earthward whose site is in the skies — 
perhaps the treasure here would be too dear a treas- 
ure couldn't 'the moth corrupt, and the thief break 
through and steal ; ' and this makes me think how 
I found a little moth in my stores the other day, 
a very subtle moth that had, in ways and man- 
ners to me and mine unknown, contrived to hide 
itself in a favorite worsted basket — how long my 
little treasure-house had furnished an arena for its 
destroying labors it is not mine to tell; it had an 
errand there — I trust it fulfilled its mission ; it 



56 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1851 

taught me, dear A., to have no treasure here, or 
rather it tried to tell me in its little mothy way of 
another enduring treasure the robber cannot steal, 
nor time waste away. Hovv many a lesson learned 
from lips of such tiny teachers — don't it make you 
think of the Bible, ' not many mighty, nor wise ' ? 

You met our dear Sarah T. after I saw you here. 
Her sweet face is the same as in those happy 
school-days — and in vain I search for wrinkles 
brought on by many cares ; we all love Sarah dearly, 
and shall try to do all in our power to make her visit 
happy. Isn't it very remarkable that in so many 
years Sarah has changed so little — not that she has 
stood still, but has made ^mq)s\ peaceful progress — her 
thoughts, though they are older, have all the charm 
of youth — have not yet lost their freshness, their in- 
nocence and peace ; she seems so pure in heart, so 
sunny and serene, like some sweet lark or robin, 
ever soaring and singing. I have not seen her much 
— I want to see her more — she speaks often oi you^ 
and with a warm affection. I hope no change or 
time shall blight those loves of ours, I would bear 
them all in my arms to my home in the glorious 
heaven and say, 'Here am I, my Father, and those 
whom thou hast given me.' If the life which is to 
come is better than dwelling he7-e, and angels are 
there and our friends are glorified and are singing 
there and praising there, need we fear to go when 
spirits beyond wait for us? I was meaning to see 
you more and talk about such things with you — I 



1852] TO MRS STRONG 57 

want to know your views and your eternal feelings 

— how things beyond are to you — oh, there is much 
to speak of in meeting one you love, and it always 
seems to me that I might have spoken more, and I 
almost always think that what we found to say might 
have been left unspoken. 

Shall it always be so, A. ? Is there no longer day 
given for our communion with the spirits of our 
love? Writing is brief and fleeting — conversation 
will come again, yet if it will, it hastes and must 
be on its way. Earth is short, but Paradise is long 

— there must be many moments in an eternal day ; 
then sometime we shall tarry while time and tide roll 
on, and till then vale. 

Your own dear 

Emilie. 

[Written from Amherst between January i, and the middle of 
June, 1852. J 

Sunday Evening. 

My very dear A., — I love to sit here alone, 
writing a letter to you, and whether your joy in 
reading will amount to as much or more, or even 
less than mine in penning it to you, becomes to me 
just now a very important problem — and I will 
tax each power to solve the same for me ; if as 
happy, indeed, I have every occasion for gratitude 

— more so, my absent friend, I may not hope to 
make you, but I do hope most earnestly it may not 
give you less. Oh, I do know it will not, if school- 



58 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1852 

day hearts are warm and school-day memories pre- 
cious ! As I told you, it is Sunday to-day, so I find 
myself quite curtailed in the selection of subjects, 
being myself quite vain, and naturally adverting to 
many worldly things which would doubtless grieve 
and distress you : much more will I be restrained by 
the fact that such stormy Sundays I always remain 
at home, and have not those opportunities for hoard- 
ing up great truths which I would have otherwise. 
In view of these things. A., your kind heart will be 
lenient, forgiving all empty words and unsatisfying 
feelings on the Sabbath-day ground which we have 
just alluded to. I rejoice in one theme appropriate 
to every place and time — indeed it cannot intrude 
in the hour most unseemly for every other thought 
and every other feeling; and sure I am to-day, how- 
e'er it may be holy, I shall not break or reproach 
by speaking of the links which bind us to each 
other, and make the very thought of you, and time 
when I last saw you, a sacred thing to me. And 
I have many memories, and many thoughts beside, 
which by some strange entwining, circle you round 
and round ; if you please, a vine of fancies, towards 
which dear A. sustains the part of oak, and as up 
each sturdy branch there climbs a litde tendril so 
full of faith and confidence and the most holy trust, 
so let the hearts do also, of the dear ' estray ; ' then 
the farther we may be from home and from each 
other, the nearer by that faith which ^ overcometh 
all things ' and bringeth us to itself. 



1852] TO MRS STRONG 59 

Amherst and Philadelphia, separate indeed, and 
yet how near, bridged by a thousand trusts and a 
' thousand times ten thousand ' the travellers who 
cross, whom you and I may not see, nor hear the 
trip of their feet, yet faith tells us they are there, 
ever crossing and re-crossing. Very likely. A., you 
fancy me at home in my own little chamber, writing 
you a letter, but you are greatly mistaken. I am 
on the blue Susquehanna paddling down to you ; I 
am not much of a sailor, so I get along rather slowly, 
and I am not much of a mermaid, though I verily 
think I shall be, if the tide overtakes me at my 
present jog. Hard-hearted girl ! I don't believe 
you care, if you did you would come quickly and 
help me out of this sea ; but if I drown. A., and go 
down to dwell in the seaweed forever and forever, 
I will not forget your name, nor all the wrong you 
did me ! 

Why did you go away and not come to see me? 
I felt so sure you would come, because you prom- 
ised me, that I watched and waited for you, and 
bestowed a tear or two upon my absentee. How 
very sad it is to have a confiding nature, one's hopes 
and feelings are quite at the mercy of all who come 
along ; and how very desirable to be a stolid indi- 
vidual, whose hopes and aspirations are safe in 
one's waistcoat pocket, and that a pocket indeed, 
and one not to be picked ! 

Notwithstanding your faithlessness I should have 
come to see you, but for that furious snow-storm ; 



60 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1852 

I did attempt in spite of it, but it conquered in 
spite of me, and I doffed my hood and shawl, and 
felt very crestfallen the remainder of the day. I 
did want one more kiss, one sweet and sad good-by, 
before you had flown away; perhaps, my dear A., 
it is well that I go without it ; it might have added 
anguish to our long separation, or made the miles 
still longer which keep a friend away. I always try 
to think in any disappointment that had I been 
gratified, it had been sadder still, and I weave from 
such supposition, at times , considerable consolation ; 
consolation upside down as I am pleased to call it. 

. . . Shall I have a letter soon — oh, may I very 
soon, for * some days are dark and dreary, and the 
wind is never weary. ' 

Emily E. 

[Also written before the middle of June, 1852.] 

Sabbath Day. 
I love to link you, A. and E., I love to put you 
together and look at you side by side — the pic- 
ture pleases me, and I should love to watch it until 
the sun goes down, did I not call to mind a very 
precious letter for which I have not as yet rendered 
a single farthing, so let me thank you that midst 
your many friends and cares and influenzas, you yet 
found time for me, and loved me. You remarked 
that I had written you more affectionately than wont 
— I have thought that word over and over, and it 
puzzles me now; whether our few last years have 
been cooler than our first ones, or whether I write 



1852] TO MRS STRONG 6 1 

indifferently when I truly know it not, the query 
troubles me. I do believe sincerely, that the friend- 
ship formed at school was no warmer than now, nay 
more, that this is warmest — they, differ indeed to 
me as morning differs from noon — one may be 
fresher, cheerier, but the other fails not. 

You and I have grown older since school-days, 
and our years have made us soberer — I mean have 
made me so, for you were always dignified, e'en 
when a little girl, and / used, now and then, to 
cut a timid caper. That makes me think of you 
the very first time I sav/ you, and I can't repress 
a smile, not to say a hearty laugh, at your little 
girl expense. I have roused your curiosity, so I 
will e'en tell you that one Wednesday afternoon, 
in the days of that dear old Academy, I went in 
to be entertained by the rhetoric of the gentlemen 
and the milder form of the girls— I had hardly 
recovered myself from the dismay attendant upon 
entering august assemblies, when with the utmost 
equanimity you ascended the stairs, bedecked with 
dandelions, arranged, it seemed, for curls. I shall 
never forget that scene, if I live to have gray hairs, 
nor the very remarkable fancies it gave me then of 
you, and it comes over me now with the strangest 
bygone funniness, and I laugh merrily. Oh, A., 
you and the early flower are forever linked to me ; 
as soon as the first green grass comes, up from a 
chink in the stones peeps the little flower, precious 
Meontodon,' and my heart fills toward you with a 



62 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1852 

warm and childlike fulness ! Nor do I laugh now ; 
far from it, I rather bless the flower which sweetly, 
slyly too, makes me come nearer you. 

But, my dear, I can't give the dandelion the privi- 
lege due to you, so good-by, little one ! 

I would love to see you, A., I would rather than 
write to you, might I with equal ease, for the 
weather is very warm, and my head aches a Uttle, 
and my heart a little more, so taking me collectively, 
I seem quite miserable, but I '11 give you the sunny 
corners, and you must n't look at the shade. You 
were happy when you wrote me ; I hope so now, 
though I would you were in the country, and could 
reach the hills and fields. I can reach them, carry 
them home, which I do in my arms daily, and when 
they drop and fade, I have only to gather fresh 
ones. Your joy would indeed be full, could you 
sit as I, at my window, and hear the boundless birds, 
and every little while feel the breath of some new 
flower ! Oh, do you love the spring, and is n't it 
brothers and sisters, and blessed, ministering spirits 
unto you and me, and us all ? 

I often see A. — oftener than at sometimes when 
friendship drooped a little. Did you ever know 
that a flower, once withered and freshened again, 
became an immortal flower, — that is, that it rises 
again? I think resurrections here are sweeter, it 
may be, than the longer and lasting one — for you 
expect the one, and only hope for the other. . . . 
I will show you the sunset if you will sit by me, but 



1853] TO MRS STRONG 63 

I cannot bring it there, for so much gold is heavy. 
Can you see it in Philadelphia? 

A rather long interval seems to have elapsed 
between the preceding letter and the next, 
which was written about July 26, probably 
of 1853. The hand-writing is quite different 
from the earlier letters, more resembling that 
middle period of which an illustration is given 
(page 218), yet still somewhat smaller. 

The delicate and sunshiny sarcasm in this 
note may be the more fully appreciated by 
recalling that Emily Dickinson was not yet 
twenty-two years old. 

Tuesday Evening. 

My dear Child, — Thank you for that sweet note 
which came so long ago, and thank you for asking 
me to come and visit you, and thank you for loving 
me, long ago, and to-day, and too for all the sweet- 
ness, and all the gentleness, and all the tenderness 
with which you remember me, — your quaint, old- 
fashioned friend. 

I wanted very much to write you sooner, and I 
tried frequently, but till now in vain, and as I write 
to-night, it is with haste, and fear lest something still 
detain me. You know, my dear A., that the sum- 
mer has been wann, that at this pleasant season 
we have much company, that this irresolute body 
refuses to serve sometimes, and the indignant tenant 
can only hold its peace, — all this you know, for I 



64 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1853 

have often told you, and yet I say it again, if may- 
hap it persuades you that I do love you indeed, and 
have not done neglectfully. ... I think it was in 
June that your note reached here, and I did snatch 
a moment to call upon your friend. Yet I went in 
the dusk, and it was Saturday evening, so even then, 
A., you see how cares pursued me. I found her 
very lovely in what she said to me, and I fancied in 
her face so, although the gentle dusk would draw 
her curtain close, and I did n't see her clearly. We 
talked the most of you, — a theme we surely loved, 
or we had not discussed it in preference to all. I 
would love to meet her again, and give my love to 
her, for your sake. You asked me to come and see 
you — I must speak of that. I thank you, A., but 
I don't go from home, unless emergency leads me 
by the hand, and then I do it obstinately, and draw 
back if I can. Should I ever leave home, which is 
improbable, I will, with much delight, accept your 
invitation ; till then, my dear A., my warmest thanks 
are yours, but don't expect me. I 'm so old-fash- 
ioned, darling, that all your friends would stare. I 
should have to bring my work-bag, and my big 
spectacles, and I half forgot my grandchildren, and 
my pincushion, and puss — why, think of it seri- 
ously, A., — do you think it my duty to leave ? Will 
you write me again ? Mother and Vinnie send their 
love, and here 's a kiss from me. 

Good-night, from 

Emily. 



CHAPTER II 

To Mr William Austin Dickinson 

THE following letters were written to 
Emily Dickinson's brother between the 
years 1847 and 1854, the earlier ones being 
sent from South Hadley, while he was a student 
in Amherst College. Later ones were written 
at Amherst, and sent to Boston, where he had 
charge of a school after graduation, 1851 and 
1852; while the latest were addressed to Cam- 
bridge during her brother's studies at the 
Harvard Law School, 1853 and 1854. Dur- 
ing these last two years their father, the 
Hon. Edward Dickinson, was in Congress at 
Washington. 

[South Hadley, Autumn, 1847.] 

Thursday Noon, 

My dear Brother Austin, — I have not really 
a moment of time in which to write you, and am 
taking time from ' silent study hours ; ' but I am 
determined not to break my promise again, and I 
generally carry my resolutions into effect. I watched 
you until you were out of sight Saturday evening, 

VOL. I. — 5 



66 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1847 

and then went to my room and looked over my 
treasures ; and surely no miser ever counted his 
heaps of gold with more satisfaction than I gazed 
upon the presents from home. . . . 

I can't tell you now how much good your visit did 
me. My spirits have wonderfully lightened since 
then. I had a great mind to be homesick after you 
went home, but I concluded not to, and therefore 
gave up all homesick feelings. Was not that a wise 
determination? . . . 

There has been a menagerie here this week. 
Miss Lyon provided ' Daddy Hawks ' as a beau 
for all the Seminary girls who wished to see the 
bears and monkeys, and your sister, not caring to 
go, was obHged to decline the gallantry of said 
gentleman, — which I fear I may never have an- 
other opportunity to avail myself of. The whole 
company stopped in front of the Seminary and 
played for about a quarter of an hour, for the pur- 
pose of getting custom in the afternoon, I opine. 
Almost all the girls went ; and I enjoyed the solitude 
finely. 

I want to know when you are coming to see me 
again, for I want to see you as much as I did before. 
I went to see Miss F. in her room yesterday. . . '. 
I love her very much, and think I shall love all the 
teachers when I become better acquainted with 
them and find out their ways, which, I can assure 
you, are almost ' past finding out.' 

I had almost forgotten to tell you of a dream 



1847] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 6/ 

which I dreamed last night, and I would like to 
have you turn Daniel and interpret it to me ; or if you 
don't care about going through all the perils which 
he did, I will allow you to interpret it without, 
provided you will try to tell no lies about it. Well, 
I dreamed a dream, and lo ! father had failed, and 
mother said that ' our rye-field, which she and I 
planted, was mortgaged to Seth Nims.' I hope it 
is not true ; but do write soon and tell me, for you 
know I should expire of mortification to have our 
rye-field mortgaged, to say nothing of its falling into 
the merciless hands of a loco ! 

Won't you please to tell me when you answer my 
letter who the candidate for President is ? I have 
been trying to find out ever since I came here, and 
have not yet succeeded. I don't know anything 
more about affairs in the world than if I were in 
a trance, and you must imagine with all your 
* Sophomoric discernment ' that it is but little and 
very faint. Has the Mexican War terminated yet, 
and how ? Are we beaten ? Do you know of any 
nation about to besiege South Hadley? If so, do 
inform me of it, for I would be glad of a chance to 
escape, if we are to be stormed. I suppose Miss 
Lyon would furnish us all with daggers and order us 
to fight for our lives in case such perils should befall 
us. . . . Miss F. told me if I was writing to Am- 
herst to send her love. Not specifying to whom, 
you may deal it out as your good sense and discretion 
prompt. Be a good boy and mind me ! 



68 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1847 

[South Hadley, November 2, 1847.] 

Tuesday Noon. 

My dear Brother Austin, — I have this mo- 
ment finished my recitation in history, and have a 
few minutes which I shall occupy in answering your 
short but welcome letter. You probably heard that 
I was alive and well yesterday, unless Mr E. 
Dickinson was robbed of a note whose contents 
were to that effect. But as robbers are not very 
plenty now-a-days, I will have no forebodings on that 
score, for the present. How do you get along with- 
out me now, and does '■ it seem any more like a 
funeral ' than it did before your visit to your humble 
servant in this place? Answer me ! I want much 
to see you all at home, and expect to three weeks 
from to-morrow if nothing unusual, like a famine or 
a pestilence, occurs to prevent my going home. 
I am anticipating much in seeing you on this week 
Saturday, and you had better not disappoint me ! 
for if you do, I will harness the * furies,' and pur- 
sue you with * a whip of scorpions,' which is even 
worse, you will find, than the Mong oat' which 
you may remember. . . . Tell father I am obliged 
to him much for his offers of pecuniary assistance, 
but do not need any. We are furnished with 
an account-book here, and obliged to put down 
every mill which we spend, and what we spend it 
for, and show it to Miss Whitman every Saturday ; 
so you perceive your sister is learning accounts in 



1847] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 69 

addition to the other branches of her education. 
I am getting along nicely in my studies, and am 
happy, quite, for me. 
Do write a long letter to 

Your affectionate sister, 

Emily. 

Enclosed with this was a delicately written 
' bill of fare ' for one of the Seminary dinners. 



SOUTH HADLEY SEMINARY 

Nov. 2d, 1847 

BILL OF FARE 

Roast Veal 

Potatoes 

Squash 

Gravy 

Wheat and Brown Bread 

Butter 

Pepper and Salt 

Dessert 
Apple Dumpling 
Sauce 

Water 
Is n't that a dinner fit to set before a king? 



70 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1848 

[South Hadley, December 11, 1847.] 

Saturday, P. M. 

My dear Brother Austin, — ... I finished my 
examination in Euclid last evening, and without a 
failure at any time. You can easily imagine how 
glad I am to get through with four books, for you 
have finished the whole forever. .. . . How are you 
all at home, and what are you doing this vacation ? 
You are reading Arabian Nights, according to Viny's 
statement. I hope you have derived much bene- 
fit from their perusal, and presume your powers of 
imagining will vastly increase thereby. But I must 
give you a word of advice too. Cultivate your other 
powers in proportion as you allow imagination to 
captivate you. Am not I a very wise young lady? 

I had almost forgotten to tell you what my studies 
are now — ' better late than never.' They are 
Chemistry, Physiology, and quarter course in Al- 
gebra. I have completed four studies already, and 
am getting along well. Did you think that it was 
my birthday yesterday? I don't believe I am 
seventeen / . . . 

From your affectionate sister, 

Emily. 

[South Hadley, about February 14, 1848.] 

Thursday Morn. 
My dear Austin, — You will perhaps imagine 
from my date that I am quite at leisure, and can do 



J 848] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 7 1 

what I please even in the forenoon, but one of our 
teachers, who is engaged, received a visit from her 
intended quite unexpectedly yesterday afternoon, 
and she has gone to her home to show him, I 
opine, and will be absent until Saturday. As I 
happen to recite to her in one of my studies, her 
absence gives me a little time in which to write. 

Your welcome letter found me all engrossed in 
the study of sulphuric acid ! I deliberated for a 
few moments after its reception on the propriety of 
carrying it to Miss Whitman, your friend. The re- 
sult of my deliberation was a conclusion to open it 
with moderation, peruse its contents with sobriety 
becoming my station, and if after a close investiga- 
tion of its contents I found nothing which savored 
of rebellion or an unsubdued will, I would lay it 
away in my folio, and forget I had received it. Are 
you not gratified that I am so rapidly gaining cor- 
rect ideas of female propriety and sedate deport- 
ment? After the proposed examination, finding it 
concealed no dangerous sentiments, I with great 
gravity deposited it with my other letters, and the 
impression that I once had such a letter is entirely 
obliterated by the waves of time. 

I have been quite lonely since I came back, but 
cheered by the thought that I am not to return 
another year, I take comfort, and still hope on. 
My visit at home was happy, very happy to me ; 
and had the idea of in so short a time returning been 
constantly in my dreams by night and day, I could 



72 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1848 

not have been happier. ' There is no rose without 
a thorn' to me. Home was always dear to me, 
and dearer still the friends around it; but never 
did it seem so dear as now. All, all are kind to 
me, but their tones fall strangely on my ear, and 
their countenances meet mine not like home-faces, 
I can assure you most sincerely. Then when 
tempted to feel sad, I think of the blazing fire and 
the cheerful meal and the chair empty now I am 
gone. I can hear the cheerful voices and the 
merry laugh, and a desolate feeling comes home to 
my heart, to think I am alone. But my good angel 
only waits to see the tears coming and then 
whispers, ' Only this year ! only twenty-two weeks 
more, and then home again you will be to stay.' 
To you, all busy and excited, I suppose the time 
flies faster ; but to me slowly, very slowly, so that 
I can see his chariot wheels when they roll along, 
and himself is often visible. But I will no longer 
imagine, for your brain is full of Arabian Nights' 
fancies, and it will not do to pour fuel on your 
already kindled imagination. . . . 

I suppose you have written a few and received a 
quantity of valentines this week. Every night have 
I looked, and yet in vain, for one of Cupid's mes- 
sengers. Many of the girls have received very 
beautiful ones ; and I have not quite done hoping 
for one. Surely my friend Thofnas has not lost all 
his former affection for me ! I entreat you to tell 
him I am pining for a valentine. I am sure I 



1848] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON y^ 

shall not very soon forget last Valentine week, nor 
any the sooner the fun I had at that time. . . . 
Monday afternoon Mistress Lyon arose in the hall, 
and forbade our sending ' any of those foolish notes 
called valentines.' But those who were here last 
year, knowing her opinions, were sufficiently cun- 
ning to write and give them into the care of D. 
during the vacation; so that about 150 were de- 
spatched on Valentine morn, before orders should 
be put down to the contrary effect. Hearing of 
this act, Miss Whitman, by and with the advice and 
consent of the other teachers, with frowning brow, 
sallied over to the Post Office to ascertain, if pos- 
sible, the number of the valentines, and worse 
still, the names of the offenders. Nothing has yet 
been heard as to the amount of her information, 
but as D. is a good hand to help the girls, and no 
one has yet received sentence, we begin to think her 
mission unsuccessful. I have not written one, nor 
do I intend to. 

Your injunction to pile on the wood has not been 
unheeded, for we have been obliged to obey it to 
keep from freezing up. . . . We cannot have much 
more cold weather, I am sure, for spring is near. 
. . . Professor Smith preached here last Sabbath, 
and such sermons I never heard in my life. We 
were all charmed with him, and dreaded to have 
him close. . . . 

Your affectionate sister, 

Emily. 



74 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1848 

(South Hadley, late May, 1848.] 

Monday Morn. 
My dear Austin, — T received a letter from home 

on Saturday by Mr G S , and father wrote 

in it that he intended to send for cousin Emily and 
myself on Saturday of this week to spend the Sab- 
bath at home. I went to Miss Whitman, after receiv- 
ing the letter, and asked her if we could go if you 
decided to come for us. She seemed stunned by my 
request, and could not find utterance to an answer 
for some time. At length she said, * Did you not 
know it was contrary to the rules of the Seminary to 
ask to be absent on the Sabbath ? ' I told her I did 
not. She then took a Catalogue from her table, and 
showed me the law in full at the last part of it. She 
closed by saying that we could liot go, and I returned 
to my room without farther ado. So you see I shall 
be deprived of the pleasure of a visit home, and you 
that of seeing me, if I may have the presumption to 
call it a pleasure ! The teachers are not willing to 
let the girls go home this term as it is the last one, 
and as I have only nine weeks more to spend here, 
we had better be contented to obey the commands. 
We shall only be the more glad to see one another 
after a longer absence, that will be all. I was highly 
edified with your imaginative note to me, and think 
your flights of fancy indeed wonderful at your age ! 
When are you coming to see me — it would be very 
pleasant to us to receive a visit from your highness 



1851] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 75 

if you can be absent from home long enough for such 
a purpose. ... I can't write longer. 
Your affectionate sister, 

Emilie. 

The next letter was written three years later, 
and sent to Boston. 

[Amherst, early in 1851.J 

Sunday Evening. 

It might not come amiss, dear Austin, to have a tid- 
ing or two concerning our state and feelings, particu- 
larly when we remember that 'Jamie has gone awa'.' 

Our state is pretty comfortable, and our feelings 
are somewhat solemn, which we account for satis- 
factorily by calling to mind the fact that it is the 
Sabbath day. Whether a certain passenger in a cer- 
tain yesterday's stage has any sombre effect on our 
once merry household or the reverse, 'I dinna choose 
to tell,' but be the case as it may, we are rather a 
crestfallen company, to make the best of us, and 
what with the sighing wind, the sobbing rain, and 
the whining of Nature generally, we can hardly con- 
tain ourselves, and I only hope and trust that your 
this-evening's-lot is cast in far more cheery places 
than the ones you leave behind. 

We are enjoying this evening what is called a 
* northeast storm' — a little north of east in case 
you are pretty definite. Father thinks it 's ' amazin' 
raw,' and I 'm half disposed to think that he 's in the 
right about it, though I keep pretty dark and don't 



y^ LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1851 

say much about it ! Vinnie is at the instrument, 
humming a pensive air concerning a young lady who 
thought she was 'almost there.' Vinnie seems much 
grieved, and I really suppose / ought to betake my- 
self to weeping ; I 'm pretty sure that I shall if she 
don't abate her singing. 

Father's just got home from meeting and Mr 
Boltwood's, found the last quite comfortable and 
the first not quite so well. . . . There has been not 
much stirring since when you went away — I should 
venture to say prudently that matters had come to a 
stand — unless something new 'turns up,' I cannot 
see anything to prevent a quiet season. Father takes 
care of the doors and mother of the windows, and 
Vinnie and I are secure against all outward attacks. 
If we can get our hearts 'under,' I don't have much 
to fear — I 've got all but three feelings down, if I 
can only keep them ! . . . 

I shall think of you to-morrow with four and twenty 
Irish boys all in a row. I miss you very much — I 
put on my bonnet to-night, opened the gate very 
desperately, and for a little while the suspense was 
terrible — I think I was held in check by some 
invisible agent, for I returned to the house without 
having done any harm ! 

If I hadn't been afraid that you would 'poke 
fun' at my feelings, I had written a sincere letter, 
but since 'the world is hollow, and doUie 's stuffed 
with sawdust,' I really do not think we had better 
expose our feelings. . . . 

Your dear sister, Emily. 



1851] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 77 



[Amherst, 1851.] 

Sunday Evening. 

I received your letter, Austin, permit me to thank 
you for it and to request some more as soon as it 's 
convenient — permit me to accord with your dis- 
creet opinion concerning Swedish Jennie, and to com- 
mend the heart brave enough to express it — com- 
bating the opinion of two civihzed worlds and New 
York into the bargain must need considerable daring 
— indeed, it had never occurred to me that amidst 
the hallelujahs one tongue would dare be dumb, and 
much less, I assure you, that this dissenting one 
should be my romantic brother ! For I had looked 
for delight and a very high style of rapture in such a 
youth as you. . . . 

We have all been rather piqued at Jennie's singing 
so well, and this first calumnious whisper pleases us 
so well, we rejoice that we did n't come — our visit 
is yet before us. . . . You haven't told us yet as 
you promised about your home — what kind of peo- 
ple they are — whether you find them pleasant — 
whether those timid gentlemen have yet 'found 
tongues to say.' Do you find the life and living any 
more annoying than you at first expected — do you 
light upon any friends to help the time away — have 
you whipped any more bad boys — all these are 
solemn questions, pray give them proper heed ! 

Two weeks of your time are gone ; I can't help 
wondering sometimes if you would love to see us, 



78 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1851 

and come to this still home. ... A Senior levee 
was held at Professor and Mrs Haven's on Tuesday 
of last week — Vinnie played pretty well. There 's 
another at the President's this next Friday evening. 
Clarum et venerabile Seniors ! 

[Amherst, March, 1851.I 

Sunday Afternoo7t. 

... It 's a glorious afternoon — the sky is blue 
and warm — the wind blows just enough to keep the 
clouds sailing, and the sunshine — oh such sunshine ! 
It isn't like gold, for gold is dim beside it; it isn't 
like anything which you or I have seen ! It seems 
to me 'Ik Marvel' was born on such a day; I only 
wish you were here. Such days were made on pur- 
pose for you and me ; then what in the world are 
you gone for? Oh, dear, I do not know, but this I 
do know, that if wishing would bring you home, you 
were here to-day. Is it pleasant in Boston? Of 
course it isn't, though. I might have known more 
than to make such an inquiry. No doubt the streets 
are muddy, and the sky some dingy hue, and I can 
think just how everything bangs and rattles, and 
goes rumbling along through stones and plank and 
clay ! I don't feel as if I could have you there, pos- 
sibly, another day. I'm afraid you'll turn into a 
bank, or a Pearl Street counting-room, if you have 
not already assumed some monstrous shape, living 
in such a place. 

Let me see — April; three weeks until April — 



1851] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 79 

the very first of April — well, perhaps that will do, 
only be sure of the week, the whole week, and noth- 
ing but the week. If they make new arrangements, 
give my respects to them, and tell them old arrange- 
ments are good enough for you, and you will have 
them ; then if they raise the wind, why, let it blow 
— there 's nothing more excellent than a breeze 
now and then ! 

What a time we shall have Fast day, after we get 
home from meeting — why, it makes me dance to 
think of it; and Austin, if I dance so many days 
beforehand, what will become of me when the hour 
really arrives? I don't know, I 'm sure ; and I don't 
care, much, for that or for anything else but get you 
home. . . . Much love from mother and Vinnie ; 
we are now pretty well, and our hearts are set on 
April, the very first of April ! 

Emilie. 

[Amherst, late March, 185 1.] 

Thursday Night. 
Dear Austin, — ... I have read Ellen Middle- 
ton, I need n't tell you I like it, nor need I tell 
you more, for you know already. 

I thank you more and more for all the pleasures 
you give me — I can give you nothing, Austin, but 
a warm and grateful heart that is yours now and 
always. Love from all. 

Emilie. 

Only think, you are coming Saturday ! I don't 



80 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1851 

know why it is that it 's always Sunday immediately 
you get home. I will arrange it differently. If it 
was n't twelve o'clock I would stay longer. 

[Amherst, June 16, 185 1.] 

Sunday Evening. 

. . . I 'm glad you are so well pleased, I 'm glad 
you are not delighted. I would not that foreign 
places should wear the smile of home. We are 
quite alarmed for the boys — hope you won't kill or 
pack away any of 'em — so near Dr Webster's bones 
't is not strange you have had temptations ! . . . 
The country 's still just now, and the severities al- 
luded to will have a salutary influence in waking the 
people up. Speaking of getting tip, how early are 
metropolitans expected to wake up, especially young 
men — more especially school-masters ? I miss my 
'department' mornings. I lay it quite to heart that 
I 've no one to wake up. Your room looks lonely 
enough, I do not love to go in there ; whenever I 
pass through I find I 'gin to whistle, as we read that 
little boys are wont to do in the graveyard. I am 
going to set out crickets as soon as I find time, 
that they by their shrill singing shall help disperse 
the gloom ; will they grow if I transplant them ? 

You importune me for news ; I am very sorry to say 
* Vanity of vanities ' there 's no such thing as news 
— it is almost time for the cholera, and then things 
will take a start ! ... All of the folks send love. 
Your affectionate 

Emily. 



i85t] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 8 1 

[July 5, 1851.] 

Sunday Afternoon. 

I have just come in from church very hot and 
faded. . . . Our church grows interesting — Zion 
hfts her head — I overhear remarks signifying Jeru- 
salem, — I do not feel at liberty to say any more 
to-day ! 

... I wanted to write you Friday, the night of 
Jennie Lind, but reaching home past midnight, and 
my room sometime after, encountering several perils 
starting and on the way, among which a kicking 
horse, an inexperienced driver, a number of Jove's 
thunderbolts, and a very terrible rain, are worthy to 
have record. All of us went — just four — add an 
absent individual and that will make full five. The 
concert commenced at eight, but knowing the world 
was hollow we thought we 'd start at six, and come 
up with everybody that meant to come up with us ; 
we had proceeded some steps when one of the 
beasts showed symptoms ; and just by the black- 
smith's shop exercises commenced, consisting of 
kicking and plunging on the part of the horse, and 
whips and moral suasion from the gentleman who 
drove — the horse refused to proceed, and your 
respected family with much chagrin dismounted, 
advanced to the hotel, and for a season halted ; 
another horse procured, we were politely invited to 
take our seats, and proceed, which we refused to do 
till the animal was warranted. About half through 

VOL. I. — 6 



82 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [185 1 

our journey thunder was said to be heard, and a 
suspicious cloud came travelHng up the sky. What 
words express our horror when rain began to fall, 
in drops, sheets, cataracts — what fancy conceive 
of drippings and of drenchings which we met on 
the way ; how the stage and its mourning captives 
drew up at Warner's Hotel ; how all of us alighted, 
and were conducted in, — how the rain did not 
abate, — how we walked in silence to the old Ed- 
wards church^ and took our seats in the same — 
how Jennie came out like a child and sang and sang 
again — how bouquets fell in showers, and the roof 
was rent with applause — how it thundered outside, 
and inside with the thunder of God and of men — 
judge ye which was the loudest ; how we all loved 
Jennie Lind, but not accustomed oft to her manner 
of singing did n't fancy that so well as we did her. 
No doubt it was very fine, but take some notes from 
her Echo, the bird sounds from the Bird Song, and 
some of her curious trills, and I 'd rather have a 
Yankee. 

He7'self and not her music was what we seemed 
to love — she has an air of exile in her mild blue 
eyes, and a something sweet and touching in her 
native accent which charms her many friends. Give 
me my thatched cottage as she sang she grew so 
earnest she seemed half lost in song, and for a tran- 
sient time I fancied she had found it and would be 

1 Evidently a slip of the pen, as Jenny Lind sang in the 
old First Church at Northampton on that occasion. 



1851] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 83 

seen * na mair ; ' and then her foreign accent made 
her again a wanderer — we will talk about her some- 
time when you come. Father sat all the evening 
looking mad, and yet so much amused you would 
have died a-laughing. ... It wasn't sarcasm ex- 
actly, nor it was n't disdain, it was infinitely funnier 
than either of those virtues, as if old Abraham 
had come to see the show, and thought it was all 
very well, but a little excess of monkey / She took 
;^4,ooo for tickets at Northampton aside from all 
expenses. . . . 

About our coming to Boston — we think we shall 
probably come — we want to see our friends, your- 
self and Aunt L.'s family. We don't care a fig 
for the Museum, the stillness, or Jennie Lind. . . . 
Love from us all. 

Your affectionate sister, 

Emily. 

[Late July, 185 1.] 

Sunday Evening, 
. . . Oh how I wish I could see your world and 
its little kingdoms, and I wish I could see the king 

— Stranger ! he was my brother ! I fancy little boys 
of several little sizes, some of them clothed in blue 
cloth, some of them clad in gray — I seat them 
round on benches in the school-room of my mind 

— then I set them all to shaking — on peril of their 
lives that they move their lips or whisper; then 
I clothe you with authority and empower you to 



84 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1851 

punish, and to enforce the law, I call you ^ Rabbi, 
Master,' and the picture is complete ! It would 
seem very funny, say for Vinnie and me to come 
round as Committee — we should enjoy the terrors 
of fifty little boys, and any specimens of discipline 
in your way would be a rare treat for us. I should 
love to know how you managed — whether govern- 
ment as a science is laid down and executed, or 
whether you cuff and thrash as the occasion dic- 
tates ; whether you use pure law as in the case of 
commanding, or whether you enforce it by means of 
sticks and stones as in the case of agents. I sup- 
pose you have authority bounded but by their lives. 
... I should think you 'd be tired of school and 
teaching and such hot weather. I really wish you 
were here, and the Endicott school where you found 
it. Whenever we go to ride in our beautiful family 
carriage we think if * wishes were horses ' we four 
' beggars would ride.' We shall enjoy brimful every- 
thing now but half full, and to have you home once 
more will be like living again. 

We are having a pleasant summer — without one 
of the five it is yet a lonely one. Vinnie says some- 
times — Didn't we have a brother — it seems to me 
we did, his name was Austin — we call but he 
answers not again — echo, Where is Austin ? laugh- 
ing, '' Where is Austin ?'...! wish they need not 
exhibit just for once in the year, and give you up 
on Saturday instead of the next week Wednesday; 
but keep your courage up and show forth those 



1851] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 85 

Emerald Isles till school committees and mayors 
are blinded with the dazzling ! Would n't I love to 
be there ! . . . 

Our apples are ripening fast. I am fully con- 
vinced that with your approbation they will not only 
pick themselves, but arrange one another in baskets 
and present themselves to be eaten. 
Love from all. 

Emilie. 
[August, 1851.I 

Sunday Afternoon. 

At my old stand again, dear Austin, and happy 
as a queen to know that while I speak those whom 
I love are listening, and I am happier still if I shall 
make them happy. 

I have just finished reading your letter which was 
brought in since church. I like it grandly — very 
— because it is so long, and also it 's so funny — we 
have all been laughing till the old house rung again 
at your delineation of men, women, and things. I 
feel quite like retiring in presence of one so grand, 
and casting my small lot among small birds and 
fishes; you say you don't comprehend me, you 
want a simpler style — gratitude indeed for all my 
fine philosophy ! I strove to be exalted, thinking I 
might reach you, and while I pant and struggle and 
climb the nearest cloud, you walk out very leisurely 
in your sHppers from Empyrean, and without the 
slightest notice, request me to get down ! As sim- 
ple as you please, the simplest sort of simple — I '11 



86 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [185 1 

be a little ninny, a little pussy catty, a little Red 
Riding Hood ; I '11 wear a bee in my bonnet, and 
a rose-bud in my hair, and what remains to do 
you shall be told hereafter. 

Your letters are richest treats, send them always 
just such warm days — they are worth a score of 
fans and many refrigerators — the only difficulty 
they are so queer, and laughing such hot weather is 
anything but amusing. A little more of earnest, 
and a little less of jest until we are out of August, 
and then you may joke as freely as the father of 
rogues himself, and we will banish care, and daily 
die a-laughing ! 

It is very hot here now ; I don 't believe it 's any 
hotter in Boston than it is here. . . . Vinnie suggests 
that she may sometimes occur to mind when you 
would like more collars made. I told her I would n't 
tell you — I have n't, however, decided whether I 
will or not. 

I often put on five knives and forks, and another 
tumbler, forgetting for the moment that * we are 
not all here.' It occurs to me, however, and I 
remove the extra, and brush a tear away in memory 
of my brother. 

We miss you now and always. When God be- 
stows but three, and one of those is withdrawn, 
the others are left alone. . . . Father is as uneasy 
when you are gone away as if you catch a trout 
and put him in Sahara. When you first went away 
he came home very frequently — walked gravely 



1851] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 8/ 

towards the barn, and returned looking very stately 
— then strode away down street as if the foe was 
coming; now he is more resigned — contents him- 
self by fancying that *we shall hear to-day,' and 
then when we do not hear, he wags his head pro- 
found, and thinks without a doubt there will be 
news * to-morrow.' * Once one is two,' once one will 
be two — ah, I have it here ! 

I wish you could have some cherries — if there 
was any way we would send you a basket of them — 
they are very large and delicious, and are just ripen- 
ing now. Little Austin Grout comes every day to 
pick them, and mother takes great comfort in call- 
ing him by name, from vague association with her 
departed boy. Austin, to tell the truth, it is very 
still and lonely — I do wish you were here. . . . 
The railroad is 'a-workin'.' My love to all my 
friends. I am on my way downstairs to put the 
tea-kettle boiling — writing and taking tea cannot 
sympathize. If you forget me now, your right hand 
shall its cunning. 

Emilie. 

[Written after a visit of the sisters in Boston. Amherst, 
September 24, 1851.] 

Tuesday Evening. 

We have got home, dear Austin. It is very lonely 
here — I have tried to make up my mind which was 
better, home and parents and country, or city and 
smoke and dust shared with the only being whom I 



88 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1851 

can call my brother. The scales don't poise very 
evenly, but so far as I can judge, the balance is in 
your favor. The folks are much more lonely than 
while we were away — they say they seemed to feel 
that we were straying together and together would 
return, and the unattended sisters seemed very sad 
to them. . . . They have had a number of friends 
to call and visit with them. Mother never was 
busier than while we were away — what with fruit 
and plants and chickens and sympathizing friends 
she really was so hurried she hardly knew what 
to do. 

Vinnie and I came safely, and met with no mishap 
— the bouquet was not withered nor was the bottle 
cracked. It was fortunate for the freight car that 
Vinnie and I were there, ours being the only bag- 
gage passing along the line. The folks looked very 
funny who travelled with us that day — they were dim 
and faded, like folks passed away — the conductor 
seemed so grand with' about half a dozen tickets 
which he dispersed and demanded in a very small 
space of time — I judged that the minority were 
travelling that day, and could n't hardly help smiling 
at our ticket friend, however sorry I was at the small 
amount of people passing along his way. He looked 
as if he wanted to make an apology for not having 
more travellers to keep him company. 

The route and the cars seemed strangely — there 
were no boys with fruit, there were no boys with 
pamphlets; one fearful little fellow ventured into 



1851] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 89 

the car with what appeared to be pubUcations and 
tracts ; he offered them to no one, and no one 
inquired for them, and he seemed greatly reUeved 
that no one wanted to buy them. . . . Mother sends 
much love, and Vinnie. 

Your lonely sister, 

Emily. 

[Amherst, Autumn, 185 1.] 

Saturday Morn. 
Dear Austin, — I 've been trying to think this 
morning how many weeks it was since you went 
away — I fail in calculations; it seems so long to 
me since you went back to school that I set down 
days for years, and weeks for a score of years — not 
reckoning time by minutes, I don't know what to 
think of such great discrepancies between the actual 
hours and those which 'seem to be.' It may seem 
long to you since you returned to Boston — how 
I wish you would stay and never go back again. 
Everything is so still here, and the clouds are cold 
and gray — I think it will rain soon. Oh, I am so 
lonely ! . . . You had a windy evening going back 
to Boston, and we thought of you many times and 
hoped you would not be cold. Our fire burned so 
cheerfully I couldn't help thinking of how many 
were here, and how many were away, and I wished 
so many times during that long evening that the 
door would open and you come walking in. Home 
is a holy thing, — nothing of doubt or distrust can 



90 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON . [1851 

enter its blessed portals. I feel it more and more as 
the great world goes on, and one and another for- 
sake in whom you place your trust, here seems in- 
deed to be a bit of Eden which not the sin of any 
can utterly destroy, — smaller it is indeed, and it 
may be less fair, but fairer it is and brighter than 
all the world beside. 

I hope this year in Boston will not impair your 
health, and I hope you will be as happy as you used 
to be before. I don't wonder it makes you sober to 
leave this blessed air — if it were in my power I 
would on every morning transmit its purest breaths 
fragrant and cool to you. How I wish you could 
have it — a thousand little winds waft it to me 
this morning, fragrant with forest leaves and bright 
autumnal berries. I would be willing to give you 
my portion for to-day, and take the salt sea's breath 
in its bright, bounding stead. . . . 
Your affectionate 

Emily. 

. . . Mother sends her love and your waistcoat, 
thinking you '11 like the one, and quite likely need 
the other. 

[Amherst, October 2, 1851.] 

Wednesday Noon. 

We are just through dinner, Austin, I want to write 
so much that I omit digestion, and a dyspepsia will 
probably be the result. ... I received your letter 



1851] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 9I 

yesterday. . . . You say we must n't trouble to send 
you any fruit, also your clothes must give us no 
uneasiness. I don't ever want to have you say any 
more such things. They make me feel like crying. 
If you 'd only teased us for it, and declared that you 
would have it, I should n't have cared so much that 
we could find no way to send you any, but you 
resign so cheerfully your birthright of purple grapes, 
and do not so much as murmur at the departing 
peaches, that I hardly can taste the one or drink the 
juice of the other. They are so beautiful, Austin, — 
we have such an abundance 'while you perish with 
hunger.' 

I do hope some one will make up a mind to go 
before our peaches are quite gone. The world is 
full of people travelling everywhere, until it occurs to 
you that you will send an errand, and then by ' hook 
or crook' you can't find any traveller who, for money 
or love, can be induced to go and carry the oppro- 
brious package. It 's a very selfish age, that is all I 

can say about it. Mr Storekeeper S has been 

'almost persuaded' to go, but I believe he has put 
it off 'till a more convenient season,' so to show 
my disapprobation I sha'n't buy any more gloves at 

Mr S 's store ! Don't you think it will seem 

very cutting to see me pass by his goods and pur- 
chase at Mr K 's? I don't think I shall retract 

should he regret his course and decide to go to- 
morrow, because it is the principle of disappointing 
people which I disapprove ! . . . 



92 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1851 

The peaches are very large — one side a rosy 
cheek, and the other a golden, and that peculiar 
coat of velvet and of down which makes a peach so 
beautiful. The grapes, too, are fine, juicy, and such 
a purple — I fancy the robes of kings are not a tint 
more royal. The vine looks like a kingdom, with 
ripe round grapes for kings, and hungry mouths for 
subjects — the first instance on record of subjects 
devouring kings ! You shall have some grapes, dear 
Austin, if I have to come on foot in order to bring 
them to you. 

The apples are very fine — it is n't quite time to 
pick them — the cider is almost done — we shall 
have some I guess by Saturday, at any rate Sunday 
noon. The vegetables are not gathered, but will be 
before very long. The horse is doing nicely; he 
travels ' like a bird ' to use a favorite phrase of your 
delighted mother's. You ask about the leaves — 
shall I say they are falling? They had begun to fall 
before Vinnie and I came home, and we walked up 
the steps through little brown ones rustling. . . . 

Vinnie tells me she has detailed the news — she 
reserved the deaths for me, thinking I might fall 
short of my usual letter somewhere. In accordance 
with her wishes I acquaint you with the decease of 

your aged friend Deacon . He had no disease 

that we know of, but gradually went out. . . . Mon- 
day evening we were all startled by a violent church- 
bell ringing, and thinking of nothing but fire, rushed 
out in the street to see. The sky was a beautiful 



1851] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 93 

red, bordering on a crimson, and rays of a gold pink 
color were constantly shooting off from a kind of sun 
in the centre. People were alarmed at this beautiful 
phenomenon, supposing that fires somewhere were 
coloring the sky. The exhibition lasted for nearly 
fifteen minutes, and the streets were full of people 
wondering and admiring. Father happened to see 
it among the very first, and rang the bell himself to 
call attention to it. You will have a full account 
from the pen of Mr Trumbull, who, I have not a 
doubt, was seen with a long lead pencil a-noting 
down the sky at the time of its highest glory. . . . 
You will be here now so soon — we are impatient 
for it — we want to see you, Austin, how much I 
cannot say here. 

Your affectionate 

Emily. 

[Amherst, early October, 1851.] 

Friday Morning. 

Dear Austin, — ... I would not spend much 
strength upon those little school-boys — you will 
need it all for something better and braver after you 
get away. It would rejoice my heart if on some 
pleasant morning you'd turn the school-room key 
on Irish boys, nurse and all, and walk away to free- 
dom and the sunshine here at home. Father says 
all Boston would n't be a temptation to you another 
year — I wish it would not tempt you to stay another 
day. Oh, Austin, it is wrong to tantalize you so while 



94 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [185 1 

you are braving all things in trying to fulfil duty. 
Duty is black and brown — home is bright and shin- 
ing, ' and the spirit and the bride say come, and let 
him that' wandereth come, for 'behold all things 
are ready.' We are having such lovely weather — 
the air is as sweet and still — now and then a gay 
leaf falling — the crickets sing all day long — high 
in a crimson tree a belated bird is singing — a 
thousand little painters are tingeing hill and dale. I 
admit now, Austin, that autumn is most beautiful, 
and spring is but the least, yet they * differ as 
stars' in their distinctive glories. How happy if you 
were here to share these pleasures with us — the 
fruit should be more sweet, and the dying day more 
golden — merrier the falling nut if with you we 
gathered it and hid it down deep in the abyss of 
basket ; but you complain not, wherefore do we ? 

Tuesday evening we had a beautiful time reading 
and talking of the good times of last summer, and 
we anticipated — boasted ourselves of to-morrow — 
of the future we created, and all of us went to ride 
in an air-bubble for a carriage. We cherish all the 
past, we glide a-down the present, awake yet dream- 
ing; but the future of ours together — there the bird 
sings loudest, and the sun shines always there. . . . 

I had a dissertation from E. C. a day or two ago 
— don't know which was the author, Plato or Soc- 
rates — rather think Jove had a finger in it. . . . 
They all send their love. Vinnie sends hers. How 
soon you will be here ! Days, flee away — 'lest with 



1 851] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 95 

a whip of scorpions I overtake your lingering.' I am 
in a hurry — this pen is too slow for me — * it hath 
done what it could.' 

Your affectionate 

Emily. 

[Amherst, before 'Cattle Show/ 1851.] 

Friday Morning. 

. . . The breakfast is so warm, and pussy is here 
a-singing, and the tea-kettle sings too, as if to see 
which was loudest, and I am so afraid lest kitty 
should be beaten — yet a shadow falls upon my 
morning picture — where is the youth so bold, the 
bravest of our fold — a seat is empty here — 
spectres sit in your chair, and now and then nudge 
father with their long, bony elbows. I wish you were 
here, dear Austin ; the dust falls on the bureau in 
your deserted room, and gay, frivolous spiders spin 
away in the corners. I don't go there after dark 
whenever I can help it, for the twilight seems to 
pause there, and I am half afraid ; and if ever I have 
to go, I hurry with all my might, and never look be- 
hind me, for I know who I should see. 

Before next Tuesday — oh, before the coming 
stage, will I not brighten and brush it, and open 
the long-closed blinds, and with a sweeping broom 
will I not bring each spider down from its home 
so high, and tell it it may come back again when 
master has gone — and oh, I will bid it to be a 
tardy spider, to tarry on the way ; and I will think 



96 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [185 1 

my eye is fuller than sometimes, though why I can- 
not tell, when it shall rap on the window and come 
to live again. I am so happy when I know how soon 
you are coming that I put away my sewing and go 
out in the yard to think. I have tried to delay the 
frosts, I have coaxed the fading flowers, I thought 
I could detain a few of the crimson leaves until you 
had smiled upon them ; but their companions call 
them, and they cannot stay away. 

You will find the blue hills, Austin, with the 
autumnal shadows silently sleeping on them, and 
there will be a glory lingering round the day, so 
you '11 know autumn has been here ; and the setting 
sun will tell you, if you don't get home till evening. 
... I thank you for such a long letter, and yet if I 
might choose, the next should be a longer. I think 
a letter just about three days long would make me 
happier than any other kind of one, if you pjease, 

— dated at Boston, but thanks be to our Father 
you may conclude it here. Everything has changed 
since my other letter, — the doors are shut this 
morning, and all the kitchen wall is covered with 
chilly flies who are trying to warm themselves, — 
poor things, they do not understand that there are 
no summer mornings remaining to them and me, 
and they have a bewildered air which is really very 
droll, didn't one feel sorry for them. You would 
say 't was a gloomy morning if you were sitting here, 

— the frost has been severe, and the few lingering 
leaves seem anxious to be going, and wrap their 



1 851] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 97 

faded cloaks more closely about them as if to shield 
them from the chilly northeast wind. The earth 
looks like some poor old lady who by dint of pains 
has bloomed e'en till now, yet in a forgetful mo- 
ment a few silver hairs from out her cap come 
stealing, and she tucks them back so hastily and 
thinks nobody sees. The cows are going to pasture, 
and little boys with their hands in their pockets are 
whistling to try to keep warm. Don't think that the 
sky will frown so the day when you come home ! 
She will smile and look happy, and be full of sun- 
shine then, and even should she frown upon her 
child returning, there is another sky, ever serene 
and fair, and there is another sunshine, though it be 
darkness there ; never mind faded forests, Austin, 
never mind silent fields — here is a little forest, 
whose leaf is ever green ; here is a brighter garden, 
where not a frost has been ; in its unfading flowers I 
hear the bright bee hum ; prithee, my brother, into 
7ny garden come ! 

Your very affectionate sister. 



[November, 1851.] 

Thursday Eve7ting. 

Dear Austin, — Something seems to whisper 

' He is thinking of home this evening,' perhaps 

because it rains, perhaps because it 's evening and 

the orchestra of winds perform their strange, sad 

music. I would n't wonder if home were thinking 
VOL. I. — 7 



98 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1851 

of him ; and it seems so natural for one to think of 
the other, perhaps it is no superstition or omen of 
this evening, — no omen * at all, at all,' as Mrs 
Mack would say. 

Father is staying at home this evening it is so 
inclement — Vinnie diverts his mind with little 
snatches of music ; and mother mends a garment 
to make it snugger for you — and what do you 
think / do among this family circle? I am think- 
ing of you with all my might, and it just occurs to 
me to note a few of my thoughts for your own inspec- 
tion. * Keeping a diary ' is not familiar to me as 
to your sister Vinnie, but her own bright example 
is quite a comfort to me, so I '11 try. 

I waked up this morning thinking for all the 
world I had had a letter from you — just as the 
seal was breaking, father rapped at my door. I 
was sadly disappointed not to go on and read ; but 
when the four black horses came trotting into town, 
and their load was none the heavier by a tiding 
forme — I was not disappointed then, it was harder 
to me than had I been disappointed. ... I found 
I had made no provision for any such time as that. 
. . . The weather has been unpleasant ever since 
you went away — Monday morning we waked up 
in the midst of a furious snow-storm — the snow 
was the depth of an inch ; oh, it looked so wintry ! 
By-and-by the sun came out, but the wind blew 
violently and it grew so cold that we gathered all 
the quinces, put up the stove in the sitting-room, 



1851] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 99 

and bade the world good-by. Kind clouds came 
over at evening ; still the sinking thermometer gave 
terrible signs of what would be on the morning. 
At last the morning came, laden with mild south 
winds, and the winds have brought the rain, so 
here we are. . . . Your very hasty letter just at 
your return rejoiced us — that you were * better — 
happier — heartier.' What made you think of such 
beautiful words to tell us how you were, and how 
cheerful you were feeling? It did us a world of 
good. How little the scribe thinks of the value of 
his line — how many eager eyes will search its every 
meaning, how much swifter the strokes of 'the 
little mystic clock, no human eye hath seen, which 
ticketh on and ticketh on, from morning until e'en.' 
If it were not that I could write you, you could not go 
away ; therefore pen and ink are very excellent things. 
We had new brown bread for tea — when it came 
smoking on and we sat around the table, how I did 
wish a sHce could be reserved for you ! You shall 
have as many loaves as we have eaten slices if you 
will but come home. This suggests Thanksgiving, 
you will soon be here \ then I can't help thinking 
of how, when we rejoice, so many hearts are break- 
ing next Thanksgiving day. What will you say, 
Austin, if I tell you that Jennie Grout and merry 
Martha Kingman will spend the day above ? They 
are not here — ' While we delayed to let them 
forth, angels beyond stayed for them.' . . . 
Your affectionate 

Emily. 



100 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1851 



[Amherst, November 17, 185 1.] 

Sunday Afternoon. 

Dear Austin, — We have just got home from 
meeting — it is very windy and cold — the hills 
from our kitchen window are just crusted with snow, 
which with their blue mantillas makes them seem so 
beautiful. You sat just here last Sunday, where I 
am sitting now ; and our voices were nimbler than 
our pens can be, if they try never so hardly. I 
should be quite sad to-day, thinking about last Sun- 
day, did n't another Sabbath smile at me so pleasantly, 
promising me on its word to present you here 
again when ' six days' work is done.' 

Father and mother sit in state in the sitting- 
room perusing such papers, only, as they are well 
assured, have nothing carnal in them ; Vinnie is 
eating an apple which makes me think of gold, 
and accompanying it with her favorite Observer, 
which, if you recollect, deprives us many a time of 
her sisterly society. Pussy has n't returned from 
the afternoon assembly, so you have us all just 
as we are at present. We were very glad indeed 
to hear from you so soon, glad that a cheerful fire 
met you at the door. I do well remember how 
chilly the west wind blew, and how everything 
shook and rattled before I went to sleep, and I 
often thought of you in the midnight car, and hoped 
you were not lonely. . . . We are thinking most of 
Thanksgiving than anything else just now — how 



i8si] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 10 1 

full will be the circle, less then by none — how the 
things will smoke — how the board will groan with 
the thousand savory viands — how when the day is 
done, lo, the evening cometh, laden with merrie 
laugh and happy conversation, and then the sleep 
and the dream each of a knight or * Ladie * — how 
I love to see them, a beautiful company coming 
down the hill which men call the Future, with their 
hearts full of joy and their hands of gladness. 
Thanksgiving indeed to a family united once more 
together before they go away. . . . Don't mind the 
days — some of them are long ones, but who cares 
for length when breadth is in store for him? Or 
who minds the cross who knows he '11 have a 
crown? I wish I could imbue you with all the 
strength and courage which can be given men — I 
wish I could assure you of the constant remem- 
brance of those you leave at home — I wish — but 
oh ! how vainly — that I could bring you back 
again and never more to stray. You are tired now, 
dear Austin, with my incessant din, but I can't help 
saying any of these things. 

The very warmest love from Vinnie and every one 
of us. I am never ready to go. 
Reluctant 

Emily. 



102 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1852 

[December, 1851]. 

Monday Morning. 

Dear Austin, — ... I was so glad to get your 
letter. I had been making calls all Saturday after- 
noon, and came home very tired, and a little 
disconsolate, so your letter was more than wel- 
come. . . . Oh Austin, you don't know how we all 
wished for you yesterday. We had such a splendid 
sermon from Professor Park — I never heard any- 
thing like it, and don't expect to again, till we stand 
at the great white throne, and ' he reads from the 
Book, the Lamb's Book.' The students and chapel 
people all came to our church, and it was very full, 
and still, so still the buzzing of a fly would have 
boomed like a cannon. And when it was all over, 
and that wonderful man sat down, people stared at 
each other, and looked as wan and wild as if they 
had seen a spirit, and wondered they had not died. 
How I wish you had heard him — I thought of it 
all the time. . . . 

Affectionately, 

Emilie. 

[Amherst, January, 1852.] 

Monday Morning. ' 
Did you think I was tardy, Austin ? For two Sun- 
day afternoons it has been so cold and cloudy that 
I did n't feel in my very happiest mood, and so I 
did not write until next Monday morning, determin- 



1852] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON IO3 

ing in my heart never to write to you in any but 
cheerful spirits. 

Even this morning, Austin, I am not in merry 
case, for it snows slowly and solemnly, and hardly 
an outdoor thing can be seen a-stirring — now and 
then a man goes by with a large cloak wrapped 
around him, and shivering at that; and now and 
then a stray kitten out on some urgent errand creeps 
through the flakes and crawls so fast as may crawl 
half frozen away. I am glad for the sake of your 
body that you are not here this morning, for it is a 
trying time for fingers and toes — for the heart's 
sake I would verily have you here. You know there 
are winter mornings when the cold without only 
adds to the warm within, and the more it snows and 
the harder it blows brighter the fires blaze, and 
chirps more merrily the 'cricket on the hearth.' 
It is hardly cheery enough for such a scene this 
morning, and yet methinks it would be if you were 
only here. The future full of sleigh-rides would 
chase the gloom from our minds which only deepens 
and darkens with every flake that falls. 

Black Fanny would ' toe the mark ' if you should 
be here to-morrow ; but as the prospects are, I pre- 
sume Black Fanny's hoofs will not attempt to fly. 
Do you have any snow in Boston? Enough for a 
ride, I hope, for the sake of * Auld Lang Syne.' 
Perhaps the * ladie ' of curls would not object to a 
drive. . . . We miss you more and more, we do 
not become accustomed to separation from you. 



104 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1852 

I almost wish sometimes we needn't miss you so 
much, since duty claims a year of you entirely to 
herself; and then again I think that it is pleasant to 
miss you if you must go away, and I would not have 
it otherwise, even if I could. In every pleasure and 
pain you come up to our minds so wishfully — we 
know you 'd enjoy our joy, and if you were with us, 
Austin, we could bear little trials more cheerfully. 
. . . When I know of anything funny I am just as apt 
to cry, far more so than to laugh, for I know who 
loves jokes best, and who is not here to enjoy them. 
We don't have many jokes, though, now, it is pretty 
much all sobriety ; and we do not have much poetry, 
father having made up his mind that it 's pretty 
much all real life. Father's real hfe and mine 
sometimes come into collision but as yet escape un- 
hurt. ... I am so glad you are well and in such 
happy spirits — both happy and well is a great com- 
fort to us when you are far away. 

Emilie. 

[February 6, 1852.] 

Friday Morning. 
. . . Since we have written you the grand rail- 
road decision is made, and there is great rejoicing 
throughout this town and the neighboring; that 
is, Sunderland, Montague, and Belchertown. Every- 
body is wide awake, everything is stirring, the streets 
are full of people walking cheeringly, and you should 
really be here to partake of the jubilee. The event 



1852] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 105 

was celebrated by D. Warner and cannon ; and the 
silent satisfaction in the hearts of all is its crowning 
attestation. 

Father is really sober from excessive satisfaction, 
and bears his honors with a most becoming air. 
Nobody believes it yet, it seems like a fairy tale, a 
most miraculous event in the lives of us all. The 
men begin working next week; only think of it, 
Austin ; why, I verily believe we shall fall down and 
worship the first ' son of Erin ' that comes, and the 
first sod he turns will be preserved as an emblem of 
the struggle and victory of our heroic fathers. Such 
old fellows as Col. S. and his wife fold their arms 
complacently and say, * Well, I declare, we have 
got it after all.' Got it, you good-for-nothings ! and 
so we have, in spite of sneers and pities and insults 
from all around ; and we will keep it too, in spite 
of earth and heaven ! How I wish you were here — 
it is really too bad, Austin, at such a time as now. 
I miss your big hurrahs, and the famous stir you 
make upon all such occasions ; but it is a comfort 
to know that you are here — that your whole soul 
is here, and though apparently absent, yet present 
in the highest and the truest sense. . . . Take good 
care of yourself, Austin, and think much of us all, 
for we do so of you. 

Emilie. 

Several subsequent letters, all piquant and 
breezy, but dealing quite entirely with family 



I06 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1852 

matters, experiences with callers, and other 
personal subjects, have been omitted. 

[March 24, 1852.] 

Wednesday Morn. 

You would n't think it was spring, Austin, if you 
were at home this morning, for we had a great snow- 
storm yesterday, and things are all white this morn- 
ing. It sounds funny enough to hear birds singing 
and sleigh-bells at a time. But it won't last long, 
so you need n't think 't will be winter at the time 
when you come home. 

I waited a day or two, thinking I might hear from 
you, but you will be looking for me, and wondering 
where I am, so I sha'n't wait any longer. We 're 
rejoiced that you 're coming home — the first thing 
we said to father when he got out of the stage was 
to ask if you were coming. I was sure you would 
all the while, for father said ' of course you would,' 
he should * consent to no other arrangement,' and 
as you say, Austin, 'what father says he means.' 
How very soon it will be now — why, when I really 
think of it, how near and how happy it is ! My 
heart grows light so fast that I could mount a grass- 
hopper and gallop around the world, and not fatigue 
him any ! The sugar weather holds on, and I do 
believe it will stay until you come. . . . ' Mrs S.' is 
very feeble ; '■ can't bear allopathic treatment, can't 
have homoeopathic, don't want hydropathic,' oh, 



1852] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON I07 



what a pickle she is in. Should n't think she would 
deign to live, it is so decidedly vulgar ! They have 
not yet concluded where to move — Mrs W. will 
perhaps obtain board in the celestial city, but I 'm 
sure I can't imagine what will become of the rest. 
. . . Much love from us all. 

Emilie. 

[May 10, 1852.] 

Monday Morning, 5 o^c. 
Dear Austin, — ... Vinnie will tell you all the 
news, so I will take a little place to describe a thun- 
der-shower which occurred yesterday afternoon, — 
the very first of the season. Father and Vinnie 
were at meeting, mother asleep in her room, and 
I at work by my window on a * Lyceum lecture.' 
The air was really scorching, the sun red and hot, 
and you know just how the birds sing before a thun- 
der-storm, a sort of hurried and agitated song — 
pretty soon it began to thunder, and the great 
'cream-colored heads' peeped out of their win- 
dows. Then came the wind and rain, and I hurried 
around the house to shut all the doors and win- 
dows. I wish you had seen it come, so cool and 
so refreshing — and everything glistening from it as 
with a golden dew — I thought of you all the time. 
This morning is fair and deHghtful. You will awake 
in dust, and with it the ceaseless din of the untiring 
city. Wouldn't you change your dwelling for my 
palace in the dew? Good-by for now. I shall see 
you so soon. E. 



I08 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1852 

Mr Edward Dickinson was in Baltimore 
when the following letter was written, in 
attendance upon the Whig Convention which 
sought, unsuccessfully, the nomination of 
Daniel Webster for the presidency. 

[Amherst, June 21, 1852.] 

Sunday Morning. 
. . . Father has not got home, and we don't 
know when to expect him. We had a letter from 
him yesterday, but he did n't say when he should 
come. He writes that he ' should think the whole 
world was there, and some from other worlds.' 
He says he meets a great many old friends and 
acquaintances, and forms a great many new ones — 
he writes in very fine spirits, and says he enjoys 
himself very much. ... I wish you could have gone 
with him, you would have enjoyed it so, but I did 
not much suppose that selfish old school would let 
you. . . . Last week the Senior levee came off at 
the President's. I believe Professor Haven is to 
give one soon — and there is to be a reception at 
Professor Tyler's next Tuesday evening which I shall 
attend. You see Amherst is growing lively, and by 
the time you come everything will be in a buzz. . . . 
We all send you our love. 

Emilie. 



1852] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 109 



[Amherst, July 23, 1852.] 

Sujtday Night. 
. . . You 'd better not come home ; I say the law 
will have you, a pupil of the law o'ertaken by the 
law, and brought to condign punishment, — scene for 
angels and men, or rather for archangels, who being 
a little higher would seem to have a 'vantage so far 
as view 's concerned. 'Are you pretty comfortable, 
though/ — and are you deaf and dumb and gone to 
the asylum where such afflicted persons learn to hold 
their tongues ? 

The next time you are n't going to write me, I 'd 
thank you to let me know — this kind of protracted 
insult is what no man can bear. Fight with me like 
a man — let me have fair shot, and you are caput 
mortuiim et cap-a-pie^ and that ends the business ! 
If you really think I so deserve this silence, tell me 
why — how — I '11 be a thorough scamp or else I 
won't be any, just which you prefer. 

T of S 's class went to Boston yesterday ; 

it was in my heart to send an apple by him for your 
private use, but father overheard some of my inten- 
tions, and said they were * rather small ' — whether 
this remark was intended for the apple, or for my 
noble self I did not think to ask him ; I rather 
think he intended to give us both a cut — however, 
he may not ! 

You are coming home on Wednesday, as perhaps 
you know, and I am very happy in prospect of your 



no LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1852 

coming, and hope you want to see us as much as 
we do you. Mother makes nicer pies with refer- 
ence to your coming, I arrange my thoughts in a 
convenient shape, Vinnie grows only perter and 
more pert day by day. 

The horse is looking finely — better than in his 
life — by which you may think him dead unless I 
add befoi'e. The carriage stands in state all covered 
in the chaise-house — we have one foundhng hen 
into whose young mind I seek to instil the fact that 
* Massa is a-comin ! ' 

The garden is amazing — we have beets and beans, 
have had splendid potatoes for three weeks now. 
Old Amos weeds and hoes and has an oversight of 
all thoughtless vegetables. The apples are fine and 
large in spite of my impression that father called 
them * small.' 

Yesterday there was a fire. At about three in the 
afternoon Mr Kimberly's barn was discovered to be 
on fire ; the wind was blowing a gale directly from 
the west, and having had no rain, the roofs [were] as 
dry as stubble. Mr Palmer's house was charred — 
the little house of father's — and Mr Kimberly's also. 
The engine was broken, and it seemed for a little 
while as if the whole street must go ; the Kimberlys' 
barn was burnt down, and the house much charred 
and injured, though not at all destroyed — Mr 
Palmer's barn took fire, and Deacon Leland's also, 
but were extinguished with only part burned roofs. 
We all feel very thankful at such a narrow escape. 



1853] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON III 

Father says there was never such imminent danger, 
and such miraculous escape. Father and Mr Frink 
took charge of the fire — or rather of the water, 
since fire usually takes care of itself. The men all 
worked like heroes, and after the fire was out father 
gave commands to have them march to Howe's 
where an entertainment was provided for them. 
After the whole was over they gave ' three cheers for 
Edward Dickinson,' and three more for the insur- 
ance company. On the whole, it is very wonderful 
that we did n't all bum up, and we ought to hold our 
tongues and be very thankful. If there must be a 
fire, I 'm sorry it could n't wait until you had got 
home, because you seem to enjoy such things so 
very much. 

There is nothing of moment now which I can 
find to tell you, except a case of measles in Hartford. 
. . . Good-by, Sir. Fare you well. My benison 
to your school. 

[Amherst, Spring, 1853.] 

Tuesday Noon., 
Dear Austin, — ... How soon now you are com- 
ing, and how happy we are in the thought of seeing 
you ! I can't realize that you will come, it is so still 
and lonely it does n't seem possible it can be other- 
wise ; but we shall see, when the nails hang full of 
coats again, and the chairs hang full of hats, and I 
can count the slippers under the chair. Oh, Austin, 
how we miss them all, and more than them, some- 



112 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1853 

body who used to hang them there, and get many a 
hint ungentle to carry them away. Those times seem 
far off now, a great way, as things we did when chil- 
dren. I wish we were children now — I wish we 
were always children, how to grow up I don't know. 
. . . Cousin J. has made us an ^olian harp which 
plays beautifully whenever there is a breeze. 

Austin, you must n't care if your letters do not get 
here just when you think they will — they are always 
new to us, and delightful always, and the more you 
send us the happier we shall be. We all send our 
love to you, and think much and say much of seeing 
you again — keep well till you come, and if knowing 
that we all love you makes you happier, then, Austin, 
you may sing the whole day long ! 
Affectionately, 

Emilie. 

[Amherst, March 18, 1853.] 

Friday Morning. 
Dear Austin, — I presume you remember a story 
that Vinnie tells of a breach of promise case where 
the correspondence between the parties consisted of 
a reply from the girl to one she had never received 
but was daily expecting. Well, / am writing an an- 
swer to the letter I have n't had, so you will see the 
force of the accompanying anecdote. I have been 
looking for you ever since despatching my last, but 
this is a fickle world, and it 's a great source of com- 
placency that 't will all be burned up by and by. I 



1853] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON II3 

should be pleased with a line when you 've published 
your work to father, if it 's perfectly convenient ! 

Your letters are very funny indeed — about the 
only jokes we have, now you are gone, and I hope 
you will send us one as often as you can. Father 
takes great delight in your remarks to him — puts 
on his spectacles and reads them o'er and o'er as if 
it was a blessing to have an only son. He reads all 
the letters you write, as soon as he gets them, at the 
post-office, no matter to whom addressed ; then he 
makes me read them aloud at the supper table again, 
and when he gets home in the evening, he cracks a 
few walnuts, puts his spectacles on, and with your 
last in his hand, sits down to enjoy the evening. . . . 
I believe at this moment, Austin, that there 's nobody 
living for whom father has such respect as for you. 
But my paper is getting low, and I must hasten to 
tell you that we are very happy to hear good news 
from you, that we hope you '11 have pleasant times 
and learn a great deal while you 're gone, and come 
back to us greater and happier for the life lived at 
Cambridge. We miss you more and more. I wish 
that we could see you, but letters come the next — 
write them often, and tell us everything. 
Affectionately, 

Emilie. 

VOL. I. — 8 



114 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1853 

[June 14, 1853.] 

. . . We have been free from company by the 
'Amherst and Belchertown Railroad' since J. went 
home, though we Hve in constant fear of some other 
visitation. * Oh, would some power the giftie gie ' 
folks to see themselves as we see them. — Biwns. 

I have read the poems, Austin, and am going to 
read them again. They please me very much, but 
I must read them again before I know just what 
I think of 'Alexander Smith.' They are not very 
coherent, but there 's a good deal of exquisite frenzy, 
and some wonderful figures as ever I met in my life. 
We will talk about it again. The grove looks nicely, 
Austin, and we think must certainly grow. We love 
to go there — it is a charming place. Everything is 
singing now, and everything is beautiful that can be 
in its life. . . . The time for the New London trip 
has not been fixed upon. I sincerely wish it may 
wait until you get home from Cambridge if you 
would like to go. 

The cars continue thriving — a good many passen- 
gers seem to arrive from somewhere, though nobody 
knows from where. Father expects his new buggy 
to arrive by the cars every day now, and that will 
help a little. I expect all our grandfathers and all 
their country cousins will come here to spend Com- 
mencement, and don't doubt the stock will rise 
several per cent that week. If we children could 
obtain board for the week in some 'vast wilderness,' 



1853] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON II5 

I think we should have good times. Our house is 
crowded daily with the members of this world, the 
high and the low, the bond and the free, the * poor 
in this world's goods/ and the 'almighty dollar;' 
and what in the world they are after continues to be 
unknown. But I hope they will pass away as insects 
or vegetation, and let us reap together in golden 
harvest time. You and I and our sister Vinnie must 
have a pleasant time to be unmolested together when 
your school-days end. You must come home from 
school, not stopping to play by the way. . . . We all 
send our love to you, and miss you very much, and 
think of seeing you again very much. Write me 
again soon. I have said a good deal to-day. 

Emilie. 

The new railroad was opened for the first 
regular trip from Palmer to Amherst, May 9, 
1853. Mr Edward Dickinson wrote on that 
day, * We have no railroad jubilee till we see 
whether all moves right, then we shall glorify 
becomingly,' Everything was apparently sat- 
isfactory, for the celebration occurred early in 
June, when more than three hundred New 
London people visited Amherst. In the fol- 
lowing letter from Emily are indications of her 
growing distaste to mingle in a social meleey 
despite genuine interest in itself and its cause. 



Il6 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1853 



[June 20, 1853.] 

Monday Morning. 
My dear Austin, — ... The New London day- 
passed off grandly, so all the people said. It was 
pretty hot and dusty, but nobody cared for that. 
Father was, as usual, chief marshal of the day, and 
went marching around with New London at his heels 
like some old Roman general upon a triumph day. 
Mrs H. got a capital dinner, and was very much 
praised. Carriages flew like sparks, hither and 
thither and yon, and they all said 'twas fine. I 
* spose ' it was. I sat in Professor Tyler's woods and 
saw the train move off, and then came home again 
for fear somebody would see me, or ask me how I 
did. Dr Holland was here, and called to see us — 
was very pleasant indeed, inquired for you, and 
asked mother if Vinnie and I might come and see 
them in Springfield. . . . We all send you our love. 

Emilie. 

[Postmarked, July 2, 1853.] 

Friday Afternoon. 
Dear Austin, — ... Some of the letters you 've 
sent us we have received, and thank you for affec- 
tionately. Some we have not received, but thank 
you for the memory, of which the emblem perished. 
Where all those letters go, yours and ours, somebody 
surely knows, but we do not. There 's a new post- 
master to-day, but we don't know who 's to blame. 



1853] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON II7 

You never wrote me a letter, Austin, which I hked 
half so well as the one father brought me. We think 
of your coming home with a great deal of happiness, 
and are glad you want to come. 

Father said he never saw you looking in better 
health or seeming in finer spirits. He didn't say 
a word about the Hippodrome or the Museum, and 
he came home so stern that none of us dared to ask 
him, and besides grandmother was here, and you 
certainly don't think I 'd allude to a Hippodrome in 
the presence of that lady ! I 'd as soon think of 
popping fire-crackers in the presence of Peter the 
Great. But you '11 tell us when you get home — 
how soon — how soon ! . . . I admire the ' Poems * 
very much. We all send our love to you — shall 
write you again Sunday. 

Emilie. 

[Summer, 1853.] 

Sunday Afternoo7i. 
... It is cold here to-day, Austin, and the west 
wind blows — the windows are shut at home, and 
the fire burns in the kitchen. How we should love 
to see you — how pleasant it would be to walk to 
the grove together. We will walk there when you 
get home. We all went down this morning, and the 
trees look beautifully — every one is growing, and 
when the west wind blows, the pines lift their light 
leaves and make sweet music. Pussy goes down 
there too, and seems to enjoy much in her own 
observations. 



Il8 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1853 

Mr Dvvight has not answered yet ; he probably will 
this week. I do think he will come, Austin, and 
shall be so glad if he will. . . . We all wish you here 
always, but I hope 't will seem only dearer for missing 
it so long. Father says you will come in three weeks 
— that won't be long now — keep well and happy, 
Austin, and remember us all you can, and much love 

from home and 

Emilie. 

Thursday Evening. 

. . . G. H. has just retired from an evening's 
visit here, and I gather my spent energies to write 
a word to you. 

* Blessed are they that are persecuted for right- 
eousness' sake, for they shall have their reward ! * 
Dear Austin, I don't feel funny, and I hope you 
won't laugh at anything I say. I am thinking of 
you and Vinnie — what nice times you are having, 
sitting and talking together, while I am lonely here, 
and I wanted to sit and think of you, and fancy 
what you were saying, all the evening long, but — 
ordained otherwise. I hope you will have grand 
times, and don't forget the unit without you, at 
home. 

I have had some things from you to which I per- 
ceive no meaning. They either were very vast, or 
they did n't mean anything, I don't know certainly 
which. What did you mean by a note you sent me 
day before yesterday? Father asked me what you 



1853] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON II9 

wrote, and I gave it to him to read. He looked very 
much confused, and finally put on his spectacles, 
which did n't seem to help him much — I don't 
think a telescope would have assisted him. I hope 
you will write to me — I love to hear from you, and 
now Vinnie is gone I shall feel very lonely. . . . 
Love for them all if there are those to love and 
think of me, and more and most for you, from 

Emily. 

Tuesday Evening. 

Well, Austin, dear Austin, you have got back 
again, codfish and pork and all — all but the slip- 
pers, so nicely wrapped to take, yet found when 
you were gone under the kitchen chair. I hope you 
won't want them. Perhaps you have some more 
there — I will send them by opportunity, should 
there be such a thing. Vinnie proposed franking 
them, but I fear they are rather large ! What should 
you think of it? It isn't every day that we have a 
chance to sponge Congress, . . . but Caesar is such 
^an honorable man ' that we may all go to the poor- 
house for all the American Congress will lift a finger 
to help us. . . . 

The usual rush of callers, and this beleaguered 
family as yet in want of time. I do hope im- 
mortality will last a little while, but if the A s 

should happen to get there first, we shall be driven 
thei-e. . . . 

Emiue. 



120 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1854 



[March 17, 1854.] 

. . . Since you went back to Cambridge the 
weather has been wonderful, — the thermometer 
every noon between 60 and 70 above zero, and 
the air full of birds. 

To-day has not seemed like a day. It has been 
most unearthly, — so mild, so bright, so still, the 
windows open, and fires uncomfortable. 

Since supper it lightens frequently. In the south 
you can see the lightning — in the north the north- 
ern lights. Now a furious wind blows just from the 
north and west, and winter comes back again. . . . 

There is to be a party at Professor Haven's to- 
morrow night, for married people merely. Celibacy 
excludes me and my sister. Father and mother are 
invited. Mother will go. . . . Mother and Vinnie 
send love. They are both getting ready for Wash- 
ington. Take care of yourself. 

Emilie. 

Already Emily seems to have exhibited dis- 
inclination for journeys, as, in a letter to his son 
in Cambridge, dated at Washington, March 
13, 1854, Mr Edward Dickinson said, 'I have 
written home to have Lavinia come with your 
mother and you, and Emily, too, if she will, 
but that I will not insist upon her coming.' 
Emily, however, did go to Washington with 
her family, later in the spring, as a subsequent 
letter to Mrs Holland will show. 



1854] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 12I 

[Amherst, March 27, 1854] 

Sunday Evening. 
Well, Austin, — it's Sunday evening. Vinnie is 
sick with the ague — mother taking a tour of the 
second story as she is wont, Sabbath evening — the 
wind is blowing high, the weather very cold, and I 
am rather cast down in view of all these circum- 
stances. ... I went to meeting alone all day. I 
assure you I felt very solemn. I went to meeting 
five minutes before the bell rang, morning and after- 
noon, so not to have to go in after all the people 
had got there. 1 wish you had heard Mr Dwight's 
sermons to-day. He has preached wonderfully, and 
I thought all the afternoon how I wished you were 
there. ... I will tell you something funny. You 
know Vinnie sent father [at Washington] a box of 
maple sugar — she got the box at the store, and it 
said on the outside of it, ' i doz. genuine Quaker 
Soap.' We did n't hear from the box, and so many 
days passed we began to feel anxious lest it had never 
reached him ; and mother, writing soon, alluded in 
her letter to the 'sugar sent by the girls,' and the 
funniest letter from father came in answer to hers. 
It seems the box went straightway, but father not 
knowing the hand, merely took off the papers in 
which the box was wrapped, and the label 'Quaker 
Soap' so far imposed upon him that he put the box 
in a drawer with his shaving materials, and supposed 
himself well stocked with an excellent Quaker Soap. 



122 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1854 

. . . We all send our love to you, and want you should 
write us often. Good-night, from 

Emilie. 

. . . The Germanians gave a concert here the 
evening of exhibition day. Vinnie and I went with 
J. I never heard sounds before. They seemed like 
brazen robins, all wearing broadcloth wings, and I 
think they were, for they all flew away as soon as 
the concert was over. 

[Late Spring, 1854.] 

Saturday Noon. 
Dear Austin, — I rather thought from your letter 
to me that my essays, together with the lectures at 
Cambridge, were too much for you, so I thought 
I would let you have a little vacation ; but you 
must have got rested now, so I shall renew the 
series. Father was very severe to me ; he thought 
I 'd been trifling with you, so he gave me quite a 
trimming about ' Uncle Tom ' and ' Charles Dickens ' 
and these ' modern Hterati ' who, he says, are noth- 
ing, compared to past generations who flourished 
when he was a boy. Then he said there were ' some- 
body's rev-e-ries,' he did n't know whose they were, 
that he thought were very ridiculous — so I 'm quite 
in disgrace at present, but I think of that ' pinnacle ' 
on which you always mount when anybody insults 
you, and that 's quite a comfort to me. . . . 



1854] TO MR WILLIAM AUSTIN DICKINSON 12 3 

After a page or two of information about 
friends in the village, the letter continues : 

This is all the news I can think of, but there is 
one old story, Austin, which you may like to hear — 
it is that we think about you the whole of the live- 
long day, and talk of you when we 're together. 
And you can recollect when you are busy studying 
that those of us at home not so hard at work as you 
are, get much time to be with you. We all send 
our love to you. 

Emilie. 

[Amherst, May, 1854.] 

Saturday Morn. 

Dear Austin, — A week ago we were all here — 
to-day we are not all here — yet the bee hums just 
as merrily, and all the busy things work on as if the 
same. They do not miss you, child, but there is a 
humming-bee whose song is not so merry, and there 
are busy ones who pause to drop a tear. Let us 
thank God, to-day, Austin, that we can love our 
friends, our brothers and our sisters, and weep when 
they are gone, and smile at their return. It is 
indeed a joy which we are blest to know. 

To-day is very beautiful — just as bright, just as 
blue, just as green and as white and as crimson as 
the cherry-trees full in bloom, and the half-opening 
peach-blossoms, and the grass just waving, and sky 
and hill and cloud can make it, if they try. How I 



124 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1854 

wish you were here, Austin ; you thought last Satur- 
day beautiful, yet to this golden day 't was but one 
single gem to whole handfuls of jewels. You will 
ride to-day, I hope, or take a long walk somewhere, 
and recollect us all, — Vinnie and me and father 
and mother and home. Yes, Austin, every one of 
us, for we all think of you, and bring you to recol- 
lection many times each day — not bring you to 
recollection, for we never put you away, but keep 
recollecting on. . . . 

You must think of us to-night while Mr Dwight 
takes tea here, and we will think of you far away 
down in Cambridge. 

Don't mind the can, Austin, if it is rather dry, 
don't mind the daily road though it is rather dusty, 
but remember the brooks and the hills, and re- 
member while you 're but one, we are but four at 

home ! 

Emilie. 



CHAPTER III 

To Mrs Gordon L. Ford, Mr Bowdoin, Mrs 
Anthon, and Miss Lavinia Dickinson 

WITH a number of early letters to herself, 
Mrs Ford of Brooklyn sent me also a 
short sketch of her remembrance of Emily 
Dickinson's girlhood, which seems to show 
her in a somewhat different aspect from any- 
thing which other friends have given. 

Mrs Ford was a daughter of the late Pro- 
fessor Fowler of Amherst College, and her 
recollections, making a pleasant picture of life 
in Amherst nearly fifty years ago, have all the 
charm of early friendship and intercourse in 
the days when plain living and high thinking 
were not an exceptional combination. 

In speaking of several letters which she 
could not find, Mrs Ford wrote, ' The other 
things which I wish I could put my hand on 
were funny — sparkling with fun, and that 
is a new phase to the public; but she cer- 
tainly began as a humorist' Although sent 
to me for publication in this volume of Letters^ 



126 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON 

Mrs Ford had hoped to revise and perhaps 
shorten the sketch in the proof; and her sud- 
den death, within a few days after writing it, 
lends a saddened interest to these memories of 
a vanished friendship. 

* My remembrances of my friend Emily 
Dickinson are many and vivid, and delightful 
to me personally, yet they are all of trifles in 
themselves, and only interesting to the general 
public as they cast light on the growth and 
changes in her soul. 

* Our parents were friends, and we knew each 
other from childhood, but she was several years 
younger, and how and when we drew together 
I cannot recall, but I think the friendship was 
based on certain sympathies and mutual ad- 
mirations of beauty in nature and ideas. She 
loved the great aspects of nature, and yet was 
full of interest and affection for its smaller 
details. We often walked together over the 
lovely hills of Amherst, and I remember 
especially two excursions to Mount Norwot- 
tock, five miles away, where we found the 
climbing fern, and came home laden with 
pink and white trilliums, and later, yellow 
lady's-slippers. She knew the wood-lore of 
the region round about, and could name the 
haunts and the habits of every wild or garden 



MRS GORDON L. FORD 12/ 

growth within her reach. Her eyes were wide 
open to nature's sights, and her ears to nature's 
voices. 

* My chief recollections of her are connected 
with these woodland walks, or out-door excur- 
sions with a merry party, perhaps to Sunder- 
land for the "sugaring off" of the maple sap, 
or to some wild brook in the deeper forest, 
w^here the successful fishermen would after- 
ward cook the chowder. She was a free 
talker about what interested her, yet I cannot 
remember one personal opinion expressed of 
her mates, her home, or her habits. 

' Later we met to discuss books. The 
Atlantic Monthly was a youngster then, and 
our joy over a new poem by Lowell, Long- 
fellow, and Whittier, our puzzles over Emer- 
son's " If the red slayer think he slays," 
our laughter at Oliver Wendell Holmes, were 
full and satisfying. Lowell was especially 
dear to us, and once I saw a passionate fit of 
crying brought on, when a tutor of the 
College, who died while contesting the sena- 
torship for Louisiana,^ told us from his eight 
years of seniority, that " Byron had a much 

1 The Hon. Henry M. Spofford, Justice of the Supreme 
Court of Louisiana, a graduate of Amherst College in the 
Class of 1840, and brother of Mr Ainsworth R. Spofford, the 
Librarian of Congress. 



128 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON 

better style," and advised us " to leave Lowell, 
Motherwell and Emerson alone." Like other 
young creatures, we were ardent partisans. 

* There was a fine circle of young people 
in Amherst, and we influenced each other 
strongly. We were in the adoring mood, and 
I am glad to say that many of those idols of 
our girlhood have proved themselves golden. 
The eight girls who composed this group had 
talent enough for twice their number, and in 
their respective spheres of mothers, authors 
or women, have been noteworthy and admi- 
rable. Three of them have passed from earth, 
but the others live in activity and usefulness. 

' This group started a little paper in the 
Academy, now the village High School, which 
was kept up for two years. Emily Dickinson 
was one of the wits of the school, and, a 
humorist of the " comic column." Fanny 
Montague often made the head title of the 
paper — Forest Leaves — in leaves copied 
from nature, and fantasies of her own pen- 
work. She is now a wise member of art 
circles in Baltimore, a manager of the Museum 
of Art, and the appointed and intelligent critic 
of the Japanese exhibit at the Exposition in 
Chicago. Helen Fiske (the " H. H." of later 
days) did no special work on the paper for 
various reasons. 



MRS GORDON L, FORD 1 29 

* This paper was all in script, and was passed 
around the school, where the contributions 
were easily recognized from the handwriting, 
which in Emily's case was very beautiful — 
small, clear, and finished. Later, though her 
writing retained its elegance, it became diffi- 
cult to read. I wish very much I could find 
a copy of Forest Leaves, but we recklessly 
gave the numbers away, and the last one I 
ever saw turned up at the Maplewood Insti- 
tute in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where they 
started a similar paper. Emily's contributions 
were irresistible, but I cannot recall them. 
One bit was stolen by a roguish editor for the 
College paper, where her touch was instantly 
recognized ; and there were two paragraphs in 
The Springfield Republican. 

* We had a Shakespeare Club — a rare thing 
in those days, — and one of the tutors pro- 
posed to take all the copies of all the members 
and mark out the questionable passages. This 
plan was negatived at the first meeting, as far 
as " the girls " spoke, who said they did not 
want the strange things emphasized, nor their 
books spoiled with marks. Finally we told 
the men to do as they liked — *' we shall read 
everything." I remember the lofty air with 
which Emily took her departure, saying, 
" There 's nothing wicked in Shakespeare, and 



130 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON 

if there is I don't want to know it." The men 
read for perhaps three meetings from their 
expurgated editions, and then gave up their 
plan, and the whole text was read out boldly. 

* There were many little dances, with cake 
and lemonade at the end, and one year there 
was a valentine party, where the lines of vari- 
ous authors were arranged to make apparent 
sense, but absolute nonsense, the play being 
to guess the names and places of the misap- 
propriated lines. 

' Emily was part and parcel of all these 
gatherings, and there were no signs, in her 
life and character, of the future recluse. As a 
prophetic hint, she once asked me if it did not 
make me shiver to hear a great many people 
talk — they took " all the clothes off their souls " 
— and we discussed this matter. She mingled 
freely in all the companies and excursions of 
the moment, and the evening frolics. 

' Several of this group had beauty, all had 
intelligence and character, and others had 
charm. Emily was not beautiful, yet she had 
great beauties. Her eyes were lovely auburn, 
soft and warm, her hair lay in rings of the same 
color all over her head, and her skin and teeth 
were fine. At this time she had a demure 
manner which brightened easily into fun 
where she felt at home, but among strangers 



MRS GORDON L. FORD 1 3 I 

she was rather shy, silent, and even depreca- 
ting. She was exquisitely neat and careful in 
her dress, and always had flowers about her, 
another pleasant habit of modernity. 

' I have so many times seen her in the 
morning at work in her garden where every- 
thing throve under her hand, and wandering 
there at eventide, that she is perpetually asso- 
ciated in my mind with flowers — a flower 
herself, — especially as for years it was her 
habit to send me the first buds of the arbutus 
which we had often hung over together in the 
woods, joying in its fresh fragrance as the very 
breath of coming spring. 

* My busy married life separated me from 
these friends of my youth, and intercourse 
with them has not been frequent ; but I rejoice 
that my early years were passed in scenes of 
beautiful nature, and with these mates of 
simple life, high cultivation and noble ideals. 
In Emily as in others, there was a rare com- 
bination of fervor and simplicity, with good 
practical living, great conscience and direct- 
ness of purpose. She loved with all her 
might, there was never a touch of the world- 
ling about her, and we all knew and trusted 
her love. 

' Dr Holland once said to me, " Her poems 
are too ethereal for publication." I repHed, 



132 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON 

"They are beautiful — so concentrated— but 
they remind me of air-plants that have no 
roots in earth." " That is true," he said, ** a 
perfect description ; " and I think these lyrical 
ejaculations, these breathed-out projectiles, 
sharp as lances, would at that time have fallen 
into idle ears. But gathered in a volume 
where many could be read at once as her 
philosophy of life, they explain each other, 
and so become intelligible and delightful to 
the public. 

* The first poem I ever read was the robin 
chorister^ (pubhshed in the first volume) 
which she gave my husband years ago. I 
think in spite of her seclusion, she was longing 
for poetic sympathy, and that some of her 
later habits of life originated in this suppressed 
and ungratified desire. 

* I only wish the interest and delight her 
poems have aroused could have come early 
enough in her career to have kept her social 
and communicative, and at one with her 
friends. Still, these late tributes to her mem- 
ory are most welcome to the circle that loved 
her, even though they are but laurels to lay on 

her grave. 

' E. E. F. F.' 

1 • Some keep the Sabbath going to church,' etc. 



1848] TO MRS GORDON L. FORD 133 

The first letter was written in 1848; the 
others at intervals until 1853. Though placed 
in order, they were not dated by Mrs Ford. 
[1848.] 

Dear Emily, — I said when the barber came I 
would save you a little lock, and fulfilling my prom- 
ise, I send you one to-day. I shall never give you 
anything again that will be half so full of sunshine 
as this wee lock of hair, but I wish no hue more 
sombre might ever fall to you. 

All your gifts should be rainbows if I owned half 
the shine, and but a bit of sea to furnish raindrops 
for one. Dear Emily, this is all — it will serve to 
make you remember me when locks are crisp and 
gray, and the quiet cap, and the spectacles, and 
* John Anderson my Jo ' are all that is left of you. 

I must have one of yours. Please spare me a little 
lock sometime when you have your scissors and 
there is one to spare. 

Your very affectionate 

Emilie. 

The buds are small, dear Emily, but will you 
please accept one for your cousin and yourself? I 
quite forgot the rosebugs when I spoke of the buds, 
last evening, and I found a family of them taking an 
early breakfast on my most precious bud, with a 
smart little worm for landlady, so the sweetest are 
gone, but accept my love with the smallest, and I 'm 

Your affectionate 

Emilie. 



134 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1849 

Tuesday Morn. 
Dear Emily, — I come and see you a great many 
times every day, though I don't bring my body with 
me, so perhaps you don't know I 'm there. But I 
love to come just as dearly, for nobody sees me then, 
and I sit and chat away, and look up in your face, 
and no matter who calls if '■ my Lord the King,' he 
does n't interrupt me. Let me say, dear Emily, both 
mean to come at a time, so you shall be very sure I 
am sitting by your side, and not have to trust the 
fancy. . . . 

Affectionately, 

E. 

[1849?] 

Thursday Morning. 

Dear Emily, — I fear you will be lonely this dark 
and stormy day, and I send this little messenger to 
say you must not be. 

The day is long to me. I have wanted to come 
and see you. I have tried earnestly to come, but 
always have been detained by some ungenerous care, 
and now this falling snow sternly and silently lifts up 
its hand between. 

How glad I am affection can always leave and go. 
How glad that the drifts of snow pause at the outer 
door and go no farther, and it is as warm within as 
if no winter came. . . . Let us think of the pleas- 
ant summer whose gardens are far away, and whose 
robins are singing always. If it were not for blos- 
soms . . . and for that brighter sunshine above. 



1 849] TO MRS GORDON L. FORD 1 35 

beyond, away, these days were dark indeed ; but I 
try to keep recollecting that we are away from home, 
and have many brothers and sisters who are expect- 
ing us. Dear Emilie, don't weep, for you will both 
be so happy where ^ sorrow cannot come.' 

Vinnie left her Testament on a Httle stand in our 
room, and it made me think of her, so I thought I 
would open it, and the first words I read were in 
those sweetest verses, * Blessed are the poor — 
Blessed are they that mourn — Blessed are they that 
weep, for they shall be comforted.' Dear Emily, I 
thought of you, and I hastened away to send this 

message to you. 

Emilie. 

Thiers day Morn. 

Dear Emily, — I can't come in this morning, be- 
cause I am so cold, but you will know I am here 
ringing the big front door-bell, and leaving a note 
for you. 

Oh, I want to come in, I have a great mind now 
to follow little Jane into your warm sitting-room ; 
are you there, dear Emily? 

No, I resist temptation and run away from the 
door just as fast as my feet will carry me, lest if I 
once come in I shall grow so happy that I shall stay 
there always and never go home at all. You will 
have read this note by the time I reach the office, 
and you can't think how fast I run. 
Affectionately, 

Emily. 



136 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1849 

P. S. I have just shot past the corner, and now 
all the wayside houses, and the little gate flies open 
to see me coming home. 

Saturday Morn. 

It has been a long week, dear Emily, for I have 
not seen your face, but I have contrived to think of 
you very much instead, which has half reconciled 
me to not seeing you for so long. I was coming 
several times, but the snow would start the first, and 
then the paths were damp, and then a friend would 
drop in to chat, and the short afternoon was gone 
before I was aware. 

Did Mr D give you a message from me ? He 

promised to be faithful, but I don't suppose divines 
think earthly loves of much consequence. My 
flowers come in my stead to-day, dear Emily. I 
hope you will love to see them, and whatever word 
of love or welcome kindly you would extend to me, 
* do even so to them.' They are small, but so full of 
meaning if they only mean the half of what I bid 
them. 

Very affectionately, 

Emily. 

Thursday Morning. 

. . . When I am as old as you, and have had so 
many friends, perhaps they won't seem so precious, 
and then I sha'n't write any more little billets-doux 
like these, but you will forgive me now, because I 
can't find many so dear to me as you. Then I know 
I can't have you always; some day a 'brave dra- 



1850] TO MR BOWDOIN 1 37 

goon ' will be stealing you away, and I will have 
farther to go to discover you at all, so I shall recol- 
lect all these sweet opportunities, and feel so sorry if 
I did n't improve them. . . . 

About this time (December, 1849), the fol- 
loviring little note was sent to Mr Bowdoin, a 
law student in Mr Dickinson's office, * on re- 
turning Jane Eyre. The leaves mentioned 
were box leaves.' 

[December, 1849.] 

Mr Bowdoin, — If all these leaves were altars, 
and on every one a prayer that Currer Bell might be 
saved, and you were God — would you answer it ? 

Mr Bowdoin, who was considered by the 
young girls at that time *a confirmed bache- 
lor,' also received the accompanying valentine 

from Emily. 

Valentine Week [1850]. 

Awake, ye muses nine, sing me a strain divine, \ 

Unwind the solemn twine, and tie my Valentine. J 

Oh the earth was made for lovers, for damsel, and 

hopeless swain. 
For sighing, and gentle whispering, and unity made 

of twain. 
All things do go a courting, in earth or sea, or air, 
God hath made nothing single but thee in His world 

so fair ! 



138 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1850 

The bride and then the bridegroom, the two, and 

then the o?ie, 
Adam, and Eve, his consort, the moon and then the 

sun; 
The hfe doth prove the precept, who obey shall 

happy be. 
Who will not serve the sovereign, be hanged on fatal 

tree. 
The high do seek the lowly, the great do seek the 

small, 
None cannot find who seeketh, on this terrestrial 

ball; 
The bee doth court the flower, the flower his suit 

receives. 
And they make a merry wedding, whose guests are 

hundred leaves ; 
The wind doth woo the branches, the branches they 

are won. 
And the father fond demandeth the maiden for his 

son. 
The storm doth walk the seashore humming a mourn- 
ful tune, 
The wave with eye so pensive, looketh to see the 

moon. 
Their spirits meet together, they make them solemn 

vows, 
No more he singeth mournful, her sadness she doth 

lose. 
The worm doth woo the mortal, death claims a living 

bride, 



1850] TO MR BOWDOIN 1 39 

Night unto day is married, morn unto eventide ; 
Earth is a merry damsel, and heaven a knight so 

true. 
And Earth is quite coquettish, and beseemeth in vain 

to sue. 
Now to the appUcation, to the reading of the roll, 
To bringing thee to justice, and marshalling thy soul : 
Thou art a human solo, a being cold, and lone, 
Wilt have no kind companion, thou reapest what 

thou hast sown. 
Hast never silent hours, and minutes all too long, 
And a deal of sad reflection, and wailing instead of 

song? 
There 's Sarah, and Eliza, and Emeline so fair, 
And Harriet and Sabra, and she with curling hair. 
Thine eyes are sadly blinded, but yet thou mayest 

see 
Six true and comely maidens sitting upon the tree ; 
Approach that tree with caution, then up it boldly 

climb, 
And seize the one thou lovest, nor care for space, or 

time. 
Then bear her to the greenwood, and build for her 

a bower. 
And give her what she asketh, jewel, or bird, or 

flower — 
And bring the fife, and trumpet, and beat upon the 

drum — 
And bid the world Goodmorrow, and go to glory 

home ! 



I40 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1852 

Valentines seemed ever near the thoughts 
of the young people of this generation, and 
another clever one, written by Emily in 1852, 
somehow found its way into The Republican, 
probably through some friend. It was origi- 
nally sent to Mr William Rowland. 

[1852.] 

Sic transit gloria mundif 
How doth the busy bee — 
Dtim vivimus vivamus^ 
I stay mine enemy. 

Oh, veni, vidi^ viciy 
Oh, caputs cap-a-pie, 
And oh, memento mori 
When I am far from thee. 

Hurrah for Peter Parley, 
Hurrah for Daniel Boone, 
Three cheers, sir, for the gentlemen 
Who first observed the moon. 

Peter put up the sunshine, 
Pattie arrange the stars. 
Tell Luna tea is waiting, 
And call your brother Mars. 

Put down the apple, Adam, 
And come away with me ; 
So shall thou have a pippin 
From off my father's tree. 



1852] TO MR WILLIAM ROWLAND 141 

I climb the hill of science 
I ' view the landscape o'er/ 
Such transcendental prospect 
I ne'er beheld before. 

Unto the Legislature 
My country bids me go. 
I '11 take my india-rubbers, 
In case the wind should blow. 

During my education, 
It was announced to me 
That gravitation, stumbling, 
Fell from an apple-tree. 

The earth upon its axis 
Was once supposed to turn. 
By way of a gymnastic 
In honor to the sun. 

It was the brave Columbus, 
A-sailing on the tide. 
Who notified the nations 
Of where I would reside. 

Mortality is fatal. 

Gentility is fine. 

Rascality heroic. 

Insolvency sublime. /" 

Our fathers being weary 
Lay down on Bunker Hill, 
And though full many a morning. 
Yet they are sleeping still. 



142 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1852 

The trumpet, sir, shall wake them, 
In dream I see them rise, 
Each with a solemn musket 
A-marching to the skies. 

A coward will remain, sir. 
Until the fight is done. 
But an immortal hero 
Will take his hat and run. 

Good-by, sir, I am going — 
My country calleth me. 
Allow me, sir, at parting 
To wipe my weeping e'e. 

In token of our friendship 
Accept this Bonnie Doon, 
And when the hand that plucked it 
Has passed beyond the moon. 

The memory of my ashes 
Will consolation be. 
Then farewell, Tuscarora, 
And farewell, sir, to thee. 

To Mrs Ford. 

Sunday Afternoon [1852]. 
I have just come home from meeting, where I 
have been all day, and it makes me so happy to 
think of writing you that I forget the sermon and 



1852] TO MRS GORDON L. FORD 1 43 

minister and all, and think of none but you. . . . 
I miss you always, dear Emily, and I think now and 
then that I can't stay without you, and half make 
up my mind to make a Httle bundle of all my earthly 
things, bid my blossoms and home good-by, and set 
out on foot to find you. But we have so much 
matter of fact here that I don't dare to go, so I keep 
on sighing, and wishing you were here. 

I know you would be happier amid this darling 
spring than in ever so kind a city, and you would get 
well much faster drinking our morning dew — and 
the world here is so beautiful, and things so sweet 
and fair, that your heart would be soothed and 
comforted. 

I would tell you about the spring if I thought it 
might persuade you even now to return, but every 
bud and bird would only afflict you and make you 
sad where you are, so not one word of the robins, 
and not one word of the bloom, lest it make the 
city darker, and your own home more dear. 

But nothing forgets you, Emily, not a blossom, not 
a bee ; for in the merriest flower there is a pensive 
air, and in the bonniest bee a sorrow — they know 
that you are gone, they know how well you loved 
them, and in their little faces is sadness, and in their 
mild eyes, tears. But another spring, dear friend, 
you must and shall be here, and nobody can take 
you away, for I will hide you and keep you — and 
who would think of taking you if I hold you tight in 
my arms ? 



144 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1852 

Your home looks very silent — I try to think of 
things funny, and turn the other way when I am 
passing near, for sure I am that looking would make 
my heart too heavy, and make my eyes so dim. 
How I do long once more to hear the household 
voices, and see you there at twilight sitting in the 
door — and I shall when the leaves fall, sha'n't I, 
and the crickets begin to sing? 

You must not think sad thoughts, dear Emily. 
I fear you are doing so, from your sweet note to nie, 
and it almost breaks my heart to have you so far 
away, where I cannot comfort you. 

All will be well, I know, and I know all will be 
happy, and I so wish I was near to convince my 
dear friend so. I want very much to hear how Mr 
Ford is now. I hope you will tell me, for it's a 
good many weeks since I have known anything of 
him. You and he may come this way any summer ; 
and how I hope he may — and I shall pray for him, 
and for you, and for your home on earth, which will 
be next the one in heaven. 

Your very affectionate, 

Emilie. 

I thank you for writing me, one precious little 
'forget-me-not' to bloom along my way. But one 
little one is lonely — pray send it a blue-eyed mate, 
that it be not alone. Here is love from mother and 
father and Vinnie and me. . . . 



1853] TO MRS GORDON L. FORD 1 45 



[1853.] 

Wednesday Eve. 

Dear Emily, — Are you there, and shall you always 
stay there, and is it not dear Emily any more, but 
Mrs Ford of Connecticut, and must we stay alone, 
and will you not come back with the birds and the 
butterflies, when the days grow long and warm ? 

Dear Emily, we are lonely here. I know Col. 

S is left, and Mr and Mrs K , but pussy has 

run away, and you do not come back again, and the 
world has grown so long ! I knew you would go 
away, for I know the roses are gathered, but I 
guessed not yet, not till by expectation we had 
become resigned. Dear Emily, when it came, and 
hidden by your veil you stood before us all and 
made those promises, and when we kissed you, all, 
and went back to our homes, it seemed to me trans- 
lation, not any earthly thing, and if a little after you 'd 
ridden on the wind, it would not have surprised me. 

And now five days have gone, Emily, and long 
and silent, and I begin to know that you will not 
come back again. There 's a verse in the Bible, 
Emily, I don't know where it is, nor just how it goes 
can I remember, but it's a little like this — ^I can go 
to her, but she cannot come back to me.' I guess 
that is n't right, but my eyes are full of tears, and 
I 'm sure I do not care if I make mistakes or not. 
Is it happy there, dear Emily, and is the fireside 

VOL I. — 10 



146 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1859 

warm, and have you a little cricket to chirp upon 
the hearth? 

How much we think of you — how dearly love you 
— how often hope for you that it may all be happy. 

Sunday evening your father came in — he stayed a 
little while. I thought he looked solitary. I thought 
he had grown old. How lonely he must be — I 'm 
sorry for him. 

Mother and Vinnie send their love, and hope you 
are so happy. Austin has gone away. Father comes 
home to-morrow. I know father will miss you. He 
loved to meet you here. 

* So fades a summer cloud away, 

So smiles the gale when storms are o'er. 
So gently shuts the eye of day. 
So dies a wave along the shore.' 

Kiss me, dear Emily, and remember me if you will, 
with much respect, to your husband. Will you write 

me sometime? 

Affectionately, 

Emily. 

To Mrs Anthon. 

Amherst [1859]. 
. . . Sweet at my door this March night another 
candidate. Go home ! We don't like Katies here ! 
Stay ! My heart votes for you, and what am I, 
indeed, to dispute her ballot ! 

What are your qualifications ? Dare you dwell in 
the East where we dwell? Are you afraid of the 



1859] TO MRS ANT HON 1 47 

sun? When you hear the new violet sucking her 
way among the sods, shall you be resolute ? All we 
are strangers, dear, the world is not acquainted with 
us, because we are not acquainted with her; and 
pilgrims. Do you hesitate? And soldiers, oft — 
some of us victors, but those I do not see to-night, 
owing to the smoke. We are hungry, and thirsty, 
sometimes, we are barefoot and cold — will you still 
come ? 

Theriy bright I record you — Kate, gathered in 
March ! It is a small bouquet, dear, but what it 
lacks in size it gains in fadelessness. Many can 
boast a hollyhock, but few can bear a rose ! And 
should new flower smile at limited associates, pray 
her remember were there many, they were not 
worn upon the breast, but tilled in the pasture. So 
I rise wearing her — so I sleep holding, — sleep at 
last with her fast in my hand, and wake bearing my 
flower. Emilie. 

To the Same, 

There are two ripenings, one of sight. 

Whose forces spheric wind, 

Until the velvet product 

Drops spicy to the ground. 

A homelier maturing, 

A process in the burr 

That teeth of frosts alone disclose 

On far October air. 

Emilie. 



148 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [i860 



To the Same. 

[i860.] 

The prettiest of pleas, dear, but with a lynx like 
me quite unavailable. Finding is slow, facilities for 
losing so frequent, in a world like this, I hold with 
extreme caution. A prudence so astute may seem 
unnecessary, but plenty moves those most, dear, who 
have been in want, and Saviour tells us, Kate, the 
poor are always with us. Were you ever poor? I 
have been a beggar, and rich to-night, as by God's 
leave I believe I am, the ' lazzaroni's ' faces haunt, 
pursue me still ! 

You do not yet 'dishmn,' Kate. Distinctly sweet 
your face stands in its phantom niche — I touch 
your hand — my cheek your cheek — I stroke your 
vanished hair. Why did you enter, sister, since you 
must depart? Had not its heart been torn enough 
but you must send your shred? 

Oh, our condor Kate ! Come from your crags 
again ! Oh, dew upon the bloom fall yet again a 
summer's night ! Of such have been the frauds 
which have vanquished faces, sown plant of flesh the 
church-yard plats, and occasioned angels. 

There is a subject, dear, on which we never touch. 
Ignorance of its pageantries does not deter me. I 
too went out to meet the dust early in the morning. 
I too in daisy mounds possess hid treasure, therefore 
I guard you more. You did not tell me you had 



i86i] TO MRS ANTHON 1 49 

once been a ^millionaire.' Did my sister think that 
opulence could be mistaken? Some trinket will 
remain, some babbhng plate or jewel. 

I write you from the summer. The murmuring 
leaves fill up the chinks through which the winter red 

shone when Kate was here, and F was here, and 

frogs sincerer than our own splash in their Maker's 
pools. It 's but a little past, dear, and yet how far 
from here it seems, fled with the snow ! So through 
the snow go many loving feet parted by * Alps.' How 
brief, from vineyards and the sun ! 

Parents and Vinnie request love to be given girl. 

Emilie. 

[1861 ?] 
To the Same. 

Katie, — Last year at this time I did not miss 
you, but positions shifted, until I hold your black 
in strong hallowed remembrance, and trust my colors 
are to you tints slightly beloved. 

You cease, indeed, to talk, which is a custom 
prevalent among things parted and torn, but shall I 
class this, dear, among elect exceptions, and bear 
you just as usual unto the kind Lord ? 

We dignify our faith when we can cross the ocean 
with it, though most prefer ships. 

How do you do this year ? . . . How many years, 
I wonder, will sow the moss upon them, before we 
bind again, a little altered, it may be, elder a little 



150 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1861 

it will be, and yet the same, as suns which shine be- 
tween our lives and loss, and violets — not last 
year's, but having the mother's eyes. 

Do you find plenty of food at home ? Famine is 
unpleasant. 

It is too late for frogs — or what pleases me 
better, dear, not quite early enough ! The pools 
were full of you for a brief period, but that brief 
period blew away, leaving me with many stems, and 
but a few foliage ! Gentlemen here have a way of 
plucking the tops of the trees, and putting the fields 
in their cellars annually, which in point of taste is 
execrable, and would they please omit, I should 
have fine vegetation and foliage all the year round, 
and never a winter month. Insanity to the sane 
seems so unnecessary — but I am only one, and 
they are ' four and forty,' which httle affair of num- 
bers leaves me impotent. Aside from this, dear 
Katie, inducements to visit Amherst are as they 
were — I am pleasantly located in the deep sea, but 
love will row you out, if her hands are strong, and 
don't wait till I land, for I 'm going ashore on the 
other side. 

Emilie. 

Following are letters written to her sister, 
Miss Lavinia Dickinson, while Emily was re- 
ceiving treatment for her eyes In Boston. She 
was there for this purpose twice, — during the 
summer of 1864, and again in 1865, usually 



TO MISS LAVINIA DICKINSON 



151 



writing of these years as ' when I was sick so 
long,' which has given many persons the idea 
of an invaHdism she never had. 

[1864.] 

Dear Vinnie, — Many write that they do not 
write because that they have too much to say, I that 
I have enough. Do you remember the whippoor- 
will that sang one night on the orchard fence, and 
then drove to the south, and we never heard of him 
afterward ? 

He will go home, and I shall go home, perhaps 
in the same train. It is a very sober thing to keep 
my summer in strange towns — what, I have not 
told, but I have found friends in the wilderness. 
You know Elijah did, and to see the ' ravens ' mend- 
ing my stockings would break a heart long hard. 

Fanny and Lou are solid gold, and Mrs B and 

her daughter very kind, and the doctor enthusiastic 
about my getting well. I feel no gayness yet — I 
suppose I had been discouraged so long. 

You remember the prisoner of Chillon did not 
know liberty when it came, and asked to go back to 
jail. 

C and A came to see me and brought 

beautiful flowers. Do you know what made them 
remember me ? Give them my love and gratitude. 

They told me about the day at Pelham, you, 

dressed in daisies, and Mr McD . I could n't 

see you, Vinnie. I am glad of all the roses you find, 



152 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1865 



while your primrose is gone. How kind Mr C- 
grew. Was Mr D dear? 



Emily wants to be well — if any one alive wants 
to get well more, I would let him, first. 

Give my love to father and mother and Austin. 

Tell Margaret I remember her, and hope Richard is 

well. . . . How I wish I could rest all those who are 

tired for me. 

Emily. 

To the Same. 
[1865.] 

Dear Vinnie, — The hood is far under way, and 
the girls think it a beauty. ... I hope the chimneys 
are done, and the hemlocks set, and the two teeth 
filled in the front yard. How astonishing it will 
be to me ! . . . 

The pink lily you gave Lou has had five flowers 
since I came, and has more buds. The girls think 
it my influence. Lou wishes she knew father's view 
of Jeff Davis' capture — thinks no one but him can 
do it justice. She wishes to send a photograph of 
the arrest to Austin, including the skirt and spurs, 
but fears he will think her trifling with him. I 
advised her not to be rash. 

How glad I should be to see you all, but it won't 
be long, Vinnie. You will be willing, won't you, for 
a little while? It has rained and been very hot, 
and mosquitoes, as in August. I hope the flowers are 
well. The tea-rose I gave Aunt L has a flower 



1865] TO MISS LAVINIA DICKINSON 153 

now. Is the lettuce ripe ? Persons wear no bonnets 
here. Fanny has a blade of straw with handle of 
ribbon. 

Affectionately, 

Emily. 

To the Same. 

. . . Father told me you were going. I wept for 
the little plants, but rejoiced for you. Had I loved 
them as well as I did, I could have begged you to 
stay with them, but they are foreigners now, and all, 
a foreigner. I have been sick so long I do not know 
the sun. I hope they may be alive, for home would 
be strange except them, now the world is dead. 

A N lives here since Saturday, and two 

new people more, a person and his wife, so I do little 

but fly, yet always find a nest. I shall go home in 

two weeks. You will get me at Palmer? 

Love for E and Mr D . 

Sister. 

To the Same. 

. . . The Doctor will let me go Monday of Thanks- 
giving week. He wants to see me Sunday, so I can- 
not before. . . . Love for the Middletown pearls. 

Shall write E after Tuesday, when I go to the 

Doctor. Thank her for sweet note. 

The drums keep on for the still man — but Emily 

must stop. 

Love of Fanny and Lou. 

Sister. 



154 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1865 

Soon after the close of the war, a friend, 
Mrs Vanderbilt of Long Island, met with a 
very serious bodily accident. Upon her re- 
covery she received the following welcome to 
the realm of health : — 

To this world she returned, 

But with a tingle of that ; 

A compound manner, 

As a sod 

Espoused a violet 

That chiefer to the skies 

Than to himself allied, 

Dwelt, hesitating. 

Half of dust, 

And half of day, the bride. 

Emily. 

On the occasion of another friend's departure 
from Amherst after a visit, Emily's good-by was 
embodied in the following lines, accompanied 
by an oleander blossom tied with black ribbon : 

We '11 pass without a parting, 

So to spare 

Certificate of absence. 

Deeming where 

I left her I could find her 

If I tried. 

This way I keep from missing 

Those who died. 

Emily. 



CHAPTER IV 

To Dr y. G. Holland, and Mrs Holland 

npHE dates of these letters can be approx- 
-^ imated only by the hand-writing — 
which varies from the early style, about 1853, 
to the latest — and by events mentioned, the 
time of whose occurrence is known. Mrs Hol- 
land writes that there were many other letters, 
even more quaint and original, but unhappily 
not preserved. 

[About 1853.] 

Friday Evening. 

Thank you, dear Mrs Holland — Vinnie and I 
will come, if you would like to have us. We should 
have written before, but mother has not been well, 
and we hardly knew whether we could leave her, 
but she is better now, and I write quite late this 
evening, that if you still desire it, Vinnie and I will 
come. Then, dear Mrs Holland, if agreeable to 
you, we will take the Amherst train on Tuesday 
morning, for Springfield, and be with you at noon. 

The cars leave here at nine o'clock, and I think 



156 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1853 

reach Springfield at twelve. I can think just how 
we dined with you a year ago from now, and it 
makes my heart beat faster to think perhaps we '11 
see you so little while from now. 

To live a thousand years would not make me 
forget the day and night we spent there, and while 
I write the words, I don't believe I 'm coming, so 
sweet it seems to me. I hope we shall not tire you ; 
with all your other cares, we fear we should not 
come, but you ivill not let us trouble you, will you, 
dear Mrs Holland? 

Father and mother ask a very warm remembrance 
to yourself and Dr Holland. 

We were happy the grapes and figs seemed ac- 
ceptable to you, and wished there were many more. 
I am very sorry to hear that ' Kate ' has such 
excellent lungs. With all your other cares, it must 
be quite a trial to you. 

It is also a source of pleasure to me that Annie 
goes to sleep, on account of the 'interregnum' it 
must afford to you. 

Three days and we are there — happy — very 
happy ! To-morrow I will sew, but I shall think of 
you, and Sunday sing and pray — yet I shall not 
forget you, and Monday 's very near, and here 's 
to me on Tuesday ! Good-night, dear Mrs Hol- 
land — I see I 'm getting wild — you will forgive me 
all, and not forget me all, though ? Vinnie is fast 
asleep, or her love would be here — though she is, it 
is. Once more, if it is fair, we will come on Tuesday, 



i853] TO DR AND MRS J. G. HOLLAND 1 57 

and you love to have us, but if not convenient, 
please surely tell us so. 

Affectionately, 

Emilie. 

Tuesday Evening. 

Dear Dr and Mrs Holland, — dear Minnie — 
it is cold to-night, but the thought of you so warm, 
that I sit by it as a fireside, and am never cold any 
more. I love to write to you — it gives my heart 
a holiday and sets the bells to ringing. If prayers 
had any answers to them, you were all here to-night, 
but I seek and I don't find, and knock and it is 
not opened. Wonder if God is just — presume He 
is, however, and 't was only a blunder of Matthew's. 

I think mine is the case, where when they ask an 
egg, they get a scorpion, for I keep wishing for you, 
keep shutting up my eyes and looking toward the 
sky, asking with all my might for you, and yet you 
do not come. I wrote to you last week, but thought 
you would laugh at me, and call me sentimental, 
so I kept my lofty letter for 'Adolphus Hawkins, 
Esq.' 

If it was n't for broad daylight, and cooking- stoves, 
and roosters, I'm afraid you would have occasion 
to smile at my letters often, but so sure as 'this 
mortal ' essays immortality, a crow from a neigh- 
boring farm-yard dissipates the illusion, and I am 
here again. 

And what I mean is this — that I thought of you 



158 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1853 

all last week, until the world grew rounder than it 
sometimes is, and I broke several dishes. 

Monday, I solemnly resolved I would be seiisible^ 
so I wore thick shoes, and thought of Dr Humphrey, 
and the Moral Law. One glimpse of The Republican 
makes me break things again — I read in it every 
night. 

Who writes those funny accidents, where railroads 
meet each other unexpectedly, and gentlemen in 
factories get their heads cut off quite informally? 
The author, too, relates them in such a sprightly 
way, that they are quite attractive. Vinnie was 
disappointed to-night, that there were not more 
accidents — I read the news aloud, while Vinnie 
was sewing. The Republican seems to us like a 
letter from you, and we break the seal and read it 
eagerly. . . . 

Vinnie and I talked of you as we sewed, this 
afternoon. I said — ' how far they seem from us,' 
but Vinnie answered me *only a little way.' . . . 
I 'd love to be a bird or bee, that whether hum or 
sing, still might be near you. 

Heaven is large — is it not? Life is short too, 
isn't it? Then when one is done, is there not 
another, and — and — then if God is willing, we 
are neighbors then. Vinnie and mother send their 
love. Mine too is here. My letter as a bee, goes 
laden. Please love us and remember us. Please 
write us very soon, and tell us how you are. . . . 
Affectionately, 

Emilie. 




o.-,-*^ <1^*^^0 ^yiZX' /<fc<t^>- y^" 








l60 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1853 



[Late Autumn, 1853.] 

Sabbath Afternoon. 

Dear Friends, — I thought I would write again. 
I write you many letters with pens which are not 
seen. Do you receive them? 

I think of you all to-day, and dreamed of you last 
night. 

When father rapped on my door to wake me this 
morning, I was walking with you in the most won- 
derful garden, and helping you pick — roses, and 
though we gathered with all our might, the basket 
was never full. And so all day I pray that I may 
walk with you, and gather roses again, and as night 
draws on, it pleases me, and I count impatiently 
the hours 'tween me and the darkness, and the 
dream of you and the roses, and the basket never 
full. 

God grant the basket fill not, till, with hands purer 
and whiter, we gather flowers of gold in baskets 
made of pearl ; higher — higher ! It seems long 
since we heard from you — long, since how little 
Annie was, or any one of you — so long since Cattle 
Show, when Dr Holland was with us. Oh, it always 
seems a long while from our seeing you, and even 
when at your house, the nights seemed much more 
long than they 're wont to do, because separated 
from you. I want so much to know if the friends 
are all well in that dear cot in Springfield — and if 
well whether happy, and happy — how happy, and 



1853] TO DR AND MRS J. G. HOLLAND 161 

why, and what bestows the joy? And then those 
other questions, asked again and again, whose 
answers are so sweet, do they love — remember us — 
wish sometimes we were there ? Ah, friends — dear 
friends — perhaps my queries tire you, but I so long 
to know. 

The minister to-day, not our own minister, 
preached about death and judgment, and what 
would become of those, meaning Austin and me, 
who behaved improperly — and somehow the ser- 
mon scared me, and father and Vinnie looked very 
solemn as if the whole was true, and I would not 
for worlds have them know that it troubled me, but 
I longed to come to you, and tell you all about it, 
and learn how to be better. He preached such an 
awful sermon though, that I did n't much think 
I should ever see you again until the Judgment 
Day, and then you would not speak to me, according 
to his story. The subject of perdition seemed to 
please him, somehow. It seems very solemn to me. 
I '11 tell you all about it, when I see you again. 

I wonder what you are doing to-day — if you have 
been to meeting? To-day has been a fair day, 
very still and blue. To-night the crimson children 
are playing in the west, and to-morrow will be 
colder. How sweet if I could see you, and talk 
of all these things ! Please write us very soon. 
The days with you last September seem a great way 
off, and to meet you again, delightful. I 'm sure it 
won't be long before we sit together. 

VOL. I.— II 



1 62 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1854 

Then will I not repine, knowing that bird of mine, 
though flown — learneth beyond the sea, melody new 
for me, and will return. 

Affectionately, 

Emily. 

This little poem was enclosed in the fore- 
going letter : — 

Truth is as old as God, 

His twin identity — 

And will endure as long as He, 

A co-eternity. 

And perish on the day 

That He is borne away 

From mansion of the universe, 

A hfeless Deity. 

[Enclosing some leaves, 1854.] 

January 2d. 
May it come to-day ? 

Then New Year the sweetest, and long life the 
merriest, and the Heaven highest — by and by ! 

Emilie. 

[Spring, 1854.] 

Philadelphia. 
Dear Mrs Holland and Minnie, and Dr Holland 
too — I have stolen away from company to write a 
note to you ; and to say that I love you still. 

I am not at home — I have been away just five 



i8543 TO DR AND MRS J. G. HOLLAND 1 63 

weeks to-day, and shall not go quite yet back to 
Massachusetts. Vinnie is with me here, and we 
have wandered together into many new ways. 

We were three weeks in Washington, while father 
was there, and have been two in Philadelphia. We 
have had many pleasant times, and seen much that 
is fair, and heard much that is wonderful — many 
sweet ladies and noble gentlemen have taken us by 
the hand and smiled upon us pleasantly — and the 
sun shines brighter for our way thus far. 

I will not tell you what I saw — the elegance, 
the grandeur ; you will not care to know the value of 
the diamonds my Lord and Lady wore, but if you 
have n't been to the sweet Mount Vernon, then I will 
tell you how on one soft spring day we glided down 
the Potomac in a painted boat, and jumped upon 
the shore — how hand in hand we stole along up a 
tangled pathway till we reached the tomb of General 
George Washington, how we paused beside it, and 
no one spoke a word, then hand in hand, walked 
on again, not less wise or sad for that marble story ; 
how we went within the door — raised the latch 
he lifted when he last went home — thank the Ones 
in Light that he 's since passed in through a brighter 
wicket ! Oh, I could spend a long day, if it did not 
weary you, telling of Mount Vernon — and I will 
sometime if we live and meet again, and God grant 
we shall ! 

I wonder if you have all forgotten us, we have 
stayed away so long. I hope you have n't — I tried 



l64 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1854 

to write so hard before I went from home, but the 
moments were so busy, and then they flew so. I 
was sure when days did come in which I was less 
busy, I should seek your forgiveness, and it did not 
occur to me that you might not forgive me. Am I 
too late to-day? Even if you are angry, I shall 
keep praying you, till from very weariness, you will 
take me in. It seems to me many a day since we 
were in Springfield, and Minnie and the diwtb-bells 
seem as vague — as vague ; and sometimes I wonder 
if I ever dreamed — then if I 'm dreaming now, 
then if I always dreamed, and there is not a world, 
and not these darling friends, for whom I would not 
count my life too great a sacrifice. Thank God 
there is a world, and that the friends we love dwell 
forever and ever in a house above. I fear I grow 
incongruous, but to meet my friends does delight 
me so that I quite forget time and sense and so 
forth. 

Now, my precious friends, if you won't forget me 
until I get home, and become more sensible, I will 
write again, and more properly. Why did n't I ask 
before, if you were well and happy ? 
Forgetful 

Emilie. 

[November, 1854.] 

Saturday Eve. 
I come in flakes, dear Dr Holland, for verily it 
snows, and as descending swans, here a pinion and 



1854] TO DR AND MRS J. G. HOLLAND 1 65 

there a pinion, and anon a plume, come the bright 
inhabitants of the white home. 

I know they fall in Springfield ; perhaps you see 
them now — and therefore I look out again, to see if 
you are looking. 

How pleasant it seemed to hear your voice — so 
said Vinnie and I, as we as individuals, and then 
collectively, read your brief note. Why did n't you 
speak to us before? We thought you had forgotten 
us — we concluded that one of the bright things 
had gone forever more. That is a sober feeling, 
and it must n't come too often in such a world as 
this. A violet came up next day, and blossomed in 
our garden, and were it not for these same flakes, 
I would go in the dark and get it, so to send to 
you. Thank Him who is in Heaven, Katie Holland 
lives ! Kiss her on every cheek for me — I really 
can't remember how many the bairn has — and give 
my warmest recollection to Mrs Holland and Min- 
nie, whom to love, this Saturday night, is no trifling 
thing. I 'm very happy that you are happy — and 
that you cheat the angels of another one. 

I would the many households clad in dark attire 
had succeeded so. You must all be happy and 
strong and well. I love to have the lamps shine on 
your evening table. I love to have the sun shine on 
your daily walks. 

The ' new house ' ! God bless it ! You will leave 
the * maiden and married life of Mary Powell ' be- 
hind. 

Love and remember Emilie. 



1 66 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1855 

While the family lived for many years in the 
old mansion built by Emily Dickinson's grand- 
father, the Hon. Samuel Fowler Dickinson, 
they had moved away from it about 1840; and 
the following letter describes their return after 
fifteen years to their early home, where Emily 
was born, and where she died : — 

[1855] 

Sabbath Day. 

Your voice is sweet, dear Mrs Holland — I wish 
I heard it oftener. 

One of the mortal musics Jupiter denies, and 
when indeed its gentle measures fall upon my ear, 
I stop the birds to listen. Perhaps you think I 
have no bird, and this is rhetoric — pray, Mr 
Whately, what is that upon the cherry-tree? 
Church is done, and the winds blow, and Vinnie is 
in that pallid land the simple call ^ sleep.' They 
will be wiser by and by, we shall all be wiser ! 
While I sit in the snows, the summer day on which 
you came and the bees and the south wind, seem 
fabulous as Heaven seems to a sinful world — and 
I keep remembering it till it assumes a spect?'al air, 
and nods and winks at me, and then all of you turn 
to phantoms and vanish slow away. We cannot 
talk and laugh more, in the parlor where we met, 
but we learned to love for aye, there, so it is just as 
well. 



1855] TO DR AND MRS J. G. HOLLAND 16/ 

We shall sit in a parlor ' not made with hands ' 
unless we are very careful ! 

I cannot tell you how we moved. I had rather 
not remember. I believe my ' effects ' were brought 
in a bandbox, and the * deathless me/ on foot, not 
many moments after. I took at the time a memo- 
randum of my several senses, and also of my hat 
and coat, and my best shoes — but it was lost in 
the melee, and I am out with lanterns, looking for 
myself. 

Such wits as I reserved, are so badly shattered 
that repair is useless — and still I can't help laugh- 
ing at my own catastrophe. I supposed we were 
going to make a * transit,' as heavenly bodies did — 
but we came budget by budget, as our fellows do, 
till we fulfilled the pantomime contained in the word 
'moved.' It is a kind of gone- to- Kansas feeling, 
and if I sat in a long wagon, with my family tied 
behind, I should suppose without doubt I was a party 
of emigrants ! 

They say that ' home is where the heart is.' I 
think it is where the house is, and the adjacent 
buildings. 

But, my dear Mrs Holland, I have another story, 
and lay my laughter all away, so that I can sigh. 
Mother has been an invalid since we came home, 
and Vinnie and I 'regulated,' and Vinnie and I 
' got settled,' and still we keep our father's house, 
and mother lies upon the lounge, or sits in her easy- 
chair. I don't know what her sickness is, for I am 



1 68 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1856 

but a simple child, and frightened at myself. I often 
wish I was a grass, or a toddling daisy, whom all 
these problems of the dust might not terrify — and 
should my own machinery get slightly out of gear, 
please, kind ladies and gentlemen, some one stop 
the wheel, — for I know that with belts and bands 
of gold, I shall whizz triumphant on the new 
stream ! Love for you — love for Dr Holland — 
thanks for his exquisite hymn — tears for your sister 
in sable, and kisses for Minnie and the bairns. 
From your mad 

Emilie. 



[Spring, 1856?] 

. . . February passed like a skate and I know 
March. Here is the * light ' the stranger said ' was 
not on sea or land.' Myself could arrest it, but will 
not chagrin him. 

. . . Cousin Peter told me the Doctor would 
address Commencement — trusting it insure you 
both for papa's fete I endowed Peter. We do not 
always know the source of the smile that flows to 
us. . . . 

My flowers are near and foreign, and I have but 
to cross the floor to stand in the Spice Isles. 

The wind blows gay to-day and the jays bark hke 
blue terriers. 

I tell you what I see — the landscape of the spirit 
requires a lung, but no tongue. I hold you few I 



1856] TO DR AND MRS J. G. HOLLAND 1 69 

love, till my heart is red as February and purple as 
March. 

Hand for the Doctor. Emily. 

[Late Summer, 1856.] 

Sabbath Night. 

Don't tell, dear Mrs Holland, but wicked as I am, 
I read my Bible sometimes, and in it as I read to-day, 
I found a verse like this, where friends should *go 
no more out ; ' and there were ' no tears,' and I 
wished as I sat down to-night that we were there — 
not here — and that wonderful world had com- 
menced, which makes such promises, and rather than 
to write you, I were by your side, and the ' hundred 
and forty and four thousand' were chatting pleasantly, 
yet not disturbing us. And I 'm half tempted to take 
my seat in that Paradise of which the good man 
writes, and begin forever and ever now^ so wondrous 
does it seem. My only sketch, profile, of Heaven is 
a large, blue sky, bluer and larger than the biggest I 
have seen in June, and in it are my friends — all of 
them — every one of them — those who are with me 
now, and those who were ' parted ' as we walked, 
and 'snatched up to Heaven.' 

If roses had not faded, and frosts had never come, 
and one had not fallen here and there whom I could 
not waken, there were no need of other Heaven than 
the one below — and if God had been here this sum- 
mer, and seen the things that / have seen — I guess 
that He would think His Paradise superfluous. Don't 



I/O LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1856 

tell Him, for the world, though, for after all He 's 
said about it, I should like to see what He was 
building for us, with no hammer, and no stone, and 
no journeyman either. Dear Mrs Holland, I love, 
to-night — love you and Dr Holland, and ' time and 
sense ' — and fading things, and things that do not 
fade. 

I 'm so glad you are not a blossom, for those in 
my garden fade, and then a ' reaper whose name is 
Death ' has come to get a few to help him make a 
bouquet for himself, so I 'm glad you are not a rose 
— and I 'm glad you are not a bee, for where they 
go when summer 's done, only the thyme knows, and 
even were you a robin, when the west winds came, 
you would coolly wink at me, and away, some 
morning ! 

As ' little Mrs Holland,' then, I think I love you 
most, and trust that tiny lady will dwell below while 
we dwell, and when with many a wonder we seek 
the new Land, her wistful face, with ours, shall look 
the last upon the hills, and first upon — well. Home! 

Pardon my sanity, Mrs Holland, in a world /;/sane, 
and love me if you will, for I had rather be loved 
than to be called a king in earth, or a lord in 
Heaven. 

Thank you for your sweet note — the clergy are 
very well. Will bring such fragments from them as 
shall seem me good. I kiss my paper here for you 
and Dr Holland — would it were cheeks instead. 

Dearly, Emilie. 

P. S. The bobolinks have gone. 



1857] TO DR AND MRS J. G. HOLLAND 171 

[1857 ?] 

Dear Sister, — After you went, a low wind war- 
bled through the house like a spacious bird, making 
it high but lonely. When you had gone the love 
came. I supposed it would. The supper of the 
heart is when the guest has gone. 

Shame is so intrinsic in a strong affection we must 
all experience Adam's reticence. I suppose the 
street that the lover travels is thenceforth divine, 
incapable of turnpike aims. 

That you be with me annuls fear and I await 
Commencement with merry resignation. Smaller 
than David you clothe me with extreme Goliath. 

Friday I tasted life. It was a vast morsel. A 
circus passed the house — still I feel the red in my 
mind though the drums are out. 

The book you mention, I have not met. Thank 
you for tenderness. 

The lawn is full of south and the odors tangle, 
and I hear to-day for the first the river in the 
tree. 

You mentioned spring's delaying — I blamed her 
for the opposite. I would eat evanescence slowly. 

Vinnie is deeply afflicted in the death of her dap- 
pled cat, though I convince her it is immortal which 
assists her some. Mother resumes lettuce, involving 
my transgression — suggestive of yourself, however, 
which endears disgrace. 

'House' is being 'cleaned.* I prefer pestilence. 
That is more classic and less fell. 



172 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1859 

Yours was my first arbutus. It was a rosy boast. 

I will send you the first witch hazel. 

A woman died last week, young and in hope but 
a little while — at the end of our garden. I thought 
since of the power of Death, not upon affection, but 
its mortal signal. It is to us the Nile. 

You refer to the unpermitted delight to be with 
those we love. I suppose that to be the license not 
granted of God. 

Count not that far that can be had, 
Though sunset lie between — 
Nor that adjacent, that beside, 
Is further than the sun. 

Love for your embodiment of it. F t v 

[1859.] 

God bless you, dear Mrs Holland ! I read it in 
the paper. 

I 'm so glad it 's a Httle boy, since now the little 
sisters have some one to draw them on the sled — 
and if a grand old lady you should live to be, 
there 's something sweet, they say, in a son's arm. 

I pray for the tenants of that holy chamber, the 
wrestler, and the wrestled for. I pray for distant 
father's heart, swollen, happy heart ! 

Saviour keep them all ! Emily. 

[Autumn, 1859.] 
Dear Hollands, — Belong to me ! We have 
no fires yet, and the evenings grow cold. To-mor- 
row, stoves are set. How many barefoot shiver I 



1859] TO DR AND MRS J. G. HOLLAND 1 73 

trust their Father knows who saw not fit to give 
them shoes. 

Vinnie is sick to-night, which gives the world a 
russet tinge, usually so red. It is only a headache, 
but when the head aches next to you, it becomes 
important. When she is well, time leaps. When 
she is ill, he lags, or stops entirely. 

Sisters are brittle things. God was penurious with 
me, which makes me shrewd with Him. 

One is a dainty sum ! One bird, one cage, one 
flight ; one song in those far woods, as yet suspected 
by faith only ! 

This is September, and you were coming in Sep- 
tember. Come ! Our parting is too long. There 
has been frost enough. We must have summer now, 
and ' whole legions ' of daisies. 

The gentian is a greedy flower, and overtakes us 
all. Indeed, this world is short, and I wish, until I 
tremble, to touch the ones I love before the hills 
are red — are gray — are white — are ' born again ' ! 
If we knew how deep the crocus lay, we never 
should let her go. Still, crocuses stud many mounds 
whose gardeners tiU in anguish some tiny, vanished 
bulb. 

We saw you that Saturday afternoon, but heed- 
lessly forgot to ask where you were going, so did 
not know, and could not write. Vinnie saw Minnie 
flying by, one afternoon at Palmer. She supposed 
you were all there on your way from the sea, and 
untied her fancy ! To say that her fancy wheedled 
her is superfluous. 



174 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [i860 

We talk of you together, then diverge on Hfe, then 
hide in you again, as a safe fold. Don't leave us 
long, dear friends ! You know we 're children still, 
and children fear the dark. 

Are you well at home ? Do you work now ? Has 
it altered much since I was there ? Are the children 
women, and the women thinking it will soon be 
afternoon ? We will help each other bear our unique 
burdens. 

Is Minnie with you now? Take her our love, if she 
is. Do her eyes grieve her now ? Tell her she may 
have half ours. 

Mother's favorite sister is sick, and mother will 
have to bid her good-night. It brings mists to us 
all ; — the aunt whom Vinnie visits, with whom she 
spent, I fear, her last inland Christmas. Does God 
take care of those at sea ? My aunt is such a timid 
woman ! 

Will you write to us ? I bring you all their loves 

— many. 

They tire me. Emilie. 

[i860.] 

How is your little Byron? Hope he gains his 
foot without losing his genius. Have heard it ably 
argued that the poet's genius lay in his foot — as 
the bee's prong and his song are concomitant. Are 
you stronger than these? To assault so minute a 
creature seems to me malign, unworthy of Nature 

— but the frost is no respecter of persons. 



i86i] TO DR AND MRS J. G. HOLLAND 175 

I should be glad to be with you, or to open your 
letter. Blossoms belong to the bee, if needs be by 
habeas corpus. ^^^^^^ 

Probably about 1861 came this brilliant, yet 
half pathetic, arraignment of the friends who 
had not written when Emily expected to hear. 
Who could resist such a plea? 

Friday. 

Dear Friends, — I write to you. I receive no 
letter. 

I say * they dignify my trust.' I do not disbelieve. 
I go again. Cardinals wouldn't do it. Cockneys 
would n't do it, but I can't stop to strut, in a world 
where bells toll. I hear through visitor in town, that 
* Mrs Holland is not strong.' The little peacock in 
me, tells me not to inquire again. Then I remember 
my tiny friend — how brief she is — how dear she 
is, and the peacock quite dies away. Now, you need 
not speak, for perhaps you are weary, and ' Herod ' 
requires all your thought, but if you are well — let 
Annie draw me a little picture of an erect flower ; 
if you are ///, she can hang the flower a little on one 
side ! 

Then, I shall understand, and you need not stop 
to write me a letter. Perhaps you laugh at me ! 
Perhaps the whole United States are laughing at 
me too ! / can't stop for that ! My business is to 
love. I found a bird, this morning, down — down 



176 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1864 

— on a little bush at the foot of the garden, and 
wherefore sing, I said, since nobody /zf^rj-/ 

One sob in the throat, one flutter of bosom — ^My 
business is to sing ' — and away she rose ! How 
do I know but cherubim, once, themselves, as patient, 
listened, and applauded her unnoticed hymn ? 

Emily. 

[1864?] 

Dear Sister, — Father called to say that our steel- 
yard was fraudulent, exceeding by an ounce the rates 
of honest men. He had been selling oats. I can- 
not stop smiling, though it is hours since, that even 
our steelyard will not tell the truth. 

Besides wiping the dishes for Margaret, I wash 
them now, while she becomes Mrs Lawler, vicarious 
papa to four previous babes. Must she not be an 
adequate bride? 

I winced at her loss, because I was in the habit 
of her, and even a new rolling-pin has an embarrass- 
ing element, but to all except anguish, the mind 
soon adjusts. 

It is also November. The noons are more laconic 
and the sundowns sterner, and Gibraltar Hghts make 
the village foreign. November always seemed to 

me the Norway of the year. is still with the 

sister who put her child in an ice nest last Monday 
forenoon. The redoubtable God ! I notice where 
Death has been introduced, he frequently calls, mak- 
ing it desirable to forestall his advances. 



i864l TO DR AND MRS J. G. HOLLAND lyj 

It is hard to be told by the papers that a friend is 
faihng, not even know where the water lies. Inci- 
dentally, only, that he comes to land. Is there no 
voice for these? Where is Love to-day? 

Tell the dear Doctor we mention him with a for- 
eign accent, party already to transactions spacious 
and untold. Nor have we omitted to breathe shorter 
for our little sister. Sharper than dying is the death 
for the dying's sake. 

News of these would comfort, when convenient or 
possible. 

Emily. 

Dear Sister, — It was incredibly sweet that Austin 
had seen you, and had stood in the dear house which 
had lost its friend. To see one who had seen you 
was a strange assurance. It helped dispel the fear 
that you departed too, for notwithstanding the loved 
notes and the lovely gift, there lurked a dread that 
you had gone or would seek to go. 'Where the 
treasure is,' there is the prospective. 

Austin spoke very warmly and strongly of you, and 
we all felt firmer, and drew a vocal portrait of Kate 
at Vinnie's request, so vivid that we saw her. . . . 

Not all die early, dying young, 

Maturity of fate 

Is consummated equally 

In ages or a night. 

A hoary boy I 've known to drop 

Whole-statured, by the side 

Of junior of fourscore — 'twas act. 

Not period, that died. 

roL. i.~i2 Emily. 



178 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1868 

Will some one lay this little flower on Mrs 
Holland's pillow? 

Emilie. 

In handwriting similar to the letters about 
1862-68, are several poems, enclosed to the 
Hollands, among them, — 

Away from home are some and I, 

An emigrant to be 

In a metropolis of homes 

Is common possibility. 

The habit of a foreign sky 

We, difficult, acquire. 

As children who remain in face, 

The more their feet retire. 



And — 



Though my destiny be fustian 
Hers be damask fine — 
Though she wear a silver apron, 
I, a less divine. 

Still, my little gypsy being, 
I would far prefer, 
Still my little sunburnt bosom. 
To her rosier. 

For when frosts their punctual fingers 
On her forehead lay. 
You and I and Doctor Holland 
Bloom eternally, 



1876] TO DR AND MRS J. G. HOLLAND 179 

Roses of a steadfast summer 
In a steadfast land, 
Where no autumn lifts her pencil, 
And no reapers stand. 

In addition to these, many other poems were 
sent to the Hollands which have already been 
published ; all of them, however, showing slight 
changes from copies which she retained. 

[Autumn, 1876.] 

Saturday Eve. 

Dear Hollands, — Good-night ! I can't stay 
any longer in a world of death. Austin is ill of 
fever. I buried my garden last week — our man, 
Dick, lost a little girl through the scarlet fever. I 
thought perhaps that you were dead, and not know- 
ing the sexton's address, interrogate the daisies. 
Ah ! dainty — dainty Death ! Ah ! democratic 
Death ! Grasping the proudest zinnia from my 
purple garden, — then deep to his bosom calling 
the serf's child ! 

Say, is he everywhere? Where shall I hide my 
things? Who is alive? The woods are dead. Is 
Mrs H. alive ? Annie and Katie — are they below, 
or received to nowhere? 

I shall not tell how short time is, for I was told 
by lips which sealed as soon as it was said, and the 
open revere the shut. You were not here in summer. 
Summer ? My memory flutters — had I — was there 



l80 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1877 

a summer? You should have seen the fields go 
— gay little entomology ! Swift little ornithology ! 
Dancer, and floor, and cadence quite gathered away, 
and I, a phantom, to you a phantom, rehearse 
the story ! An orator of feather unto an audience 
of fuzz, — and pantomimic plaudits. *■ Quite as good 
as a play,' indeed ! Tell Mrs Holland she is mine. 
Ask her if vice versa ? Mine is but just the 
thiefs request — * Remember me to-day.' Such are 
the bright chirographics of the 'Lamb's Book.' Good- 
night ! My ships are in ! — My window overlooks 
the wharf! One yacht, and a man-of-war; two 
brigs and a schooner ! * Down with the topmast ! 
Lay her a' hold, a' hold ! ' Emilie. 

A letter from Mrs Holland to Emily and her 
sister jointly, in 1877, called forth this unique 
protest. 

Sister, — A mutual plum is not a plum. I was 
too respectful to take the pulp and do not like a 
stone. 

Send no union letters. The soul must go by 
Death alone, so, it must by life, if it is a soul. 

If a committee — no matter. 

I saw the sunrise on the Alps since I saw you. 
Travel why to Nature, when she dwells with us? 
Those who lift their hats shall see her, as devout 
do God. 

I trust you are merry and sound. The chances 



1S78] TO DR AND MRS J. G. HOLLAND 18 1 

are all against the dear, when we are not with them, 
though paws of principalities cannot affront if we 
are by. 

Dr Vaill called here Monday on his way to your 
house to get the Doctor to preach for him. Shall 
search The Republican for a brief of the sermon. 
To-day is very homely and awkward as the homely 
are who have not mental beauty. 

Then follows, — 

*The sky is low, the clouds are mean,' 
printed at page 103 of the Poems, First Series. 

[Spring, 1878.] 

T thought that * Birnam Wood ' had * come to 
Dunsinane.' Where did you pick arbutus? In 
Broadway, I suppose. They say that God is every- 
where, and yet we always think of Him as somewhat 
of a recluse. ... It is hard not to hear again that 
vital * Sam is coming ' — though if grief is a test of 
a priceless life, he is compensated. He was not 
ambitious for redemption — that was why it is his. 
'To him that hath, shall be given.' Were it not for 
the eyes, we would know of you oftener. Have 
they no remorse for their selfishness? *This taber- 
nacle ' is a blissful trial, but the bliss predominates. 

I suppose you will play in the water at Alexandria 
Bay, as the baby does at the tub in the drive. . . . 
Speak to us when your eyes can spare you, and 



1 82 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1879 

'keep us, at home, or by the way,' as the cler- 
gyman says, when he folds the church till another 
Sabbath. 

Lovingly, 

Emily. 

[August, 1879.] 

Loved and Little Sister, — Vinnie brought in a 
sweet pea to-day, which had a pod on the 'off' 
side. Startled by the omen, I hasten to you. 

An unexpected impediment to ray reply to your 
dear last, was a call from my Aunt Elizabeth — * the 
only male relative on the female side,' and though 
many days since, its flavor of court-martial still sets 
my spirit tingling. 

With what dismay I read of those columns of 
kindred in the Bible — the Jacobites and the Jebu- 
sites and the Hittites and the Jacqueminots ! 

I am sure you are better, for no rheumatism in 
its senses would stay after the thermometer struck 
ninety ! 

We are revelling in a gorgeous drought. 

The grass is painted brown, and how nature would 
look in other than the standard colors, we can all 

infer. ... I bade call on you, but Vinnie said 

you were 'the other side the globe,' yet Vinnie 
thinks Vermont is in Asia, so I don't intend to be 
disheartened by trifles. 

Vinnie has a new pussy that catches a mouse an 
hour. We call her the * minute hand.' . . . 



i88i] TO MRS J, G. HOLLAND 183 

Dr Holland's death, in October of 1881, 
brought grief to many loving hearts, but to 
the quiet Amherst household peculiar pain, 
voiced in the notes to follow. 

We read the words but know them not. We are 
too frightened with sorrow. If that dear, tired one 
must sleep, could we not see him first? 

Heaven is but a little way to one who gave it, 
here. ' Inasmuch,' to him, how tenderly fulfilled ! 

Our hearts have flown to you before — our break- 
ing voices follow. How can we wait to take you all 
in our sheltering arms ? 

Could there be new tenderness, it would be for 
you, but the heart is full — another throb would 
split it — nor would we dare to speak to those 
whom such a grief removes, but we have somewhere 
heard ' A little child shall lead them.' 

Emily. 

Thursday. 

After a while, dear, you will remember that there 
is a heaven — but you can't now. Jesus will excuse 
it. He will remember his shorn lamb. 

The lost one was on such childlike terms with the 
Father in Heaven. He has passed from confiding 
to comprehending — perhaps but a step. 

The safety of a beloved lost is the first anguish. 
With you, that is peace. 

I shall never forget the Doctor's prayer, my first 



l84 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1881 

morning with you — so simple, so believing. That 
God must be a friend — that was a different God — 
and I almost felt warmer myself, in the midst of a 
tie so sunshiny. 

I am yearning to know if he knew he was fleeing 
— if he spoke to you. Dare I ask if he suffered? 
Some one will tell me a very little, when they have 
the strength. . . . Cling tight to the hearts that will 
not let you fall. 

Emily. 

Panting to help the dear ones and yet not know- 
ing how, lest any voice bereave them but that loved 
voice that will not come, if I can rest them, here is 
down — or rescue, here is power. 

One who only said ' I am sorry ' helped me the 
most when father ceased — it was too soon for 
language. 

Fearing to tell mother, some one disclosed it un- 
known to us. Weeping bitterly, we tried to console 
her. She only replied ' I loved him so.' 

Had he a tenderer eulogy ? 

Emily. 

... I know you will live for our sake, dear, 
you would not be willing to for your own. That is 
the duty which saves. While we are trying for 
others, power of life comes back, very faint at first, 
like the new bird, but by and by it has wings. 

How sweetly you have comforted me — the toil 



i88ij TO MRS J. G. HOLLAND 185 

to comfort you, I hoped never would come. A 
sorrow on your sunny face is too dark a miracle — 
but how sweet that he rose in the morning — accom- 
panied by dawn. How lovely that he spoke with 
you, that memorial time ! How gentle that he left 
the pang he had not time to feel ! Bequest of 
darkness, yet of light, since unborne by him. 
' Where thou goest, we will go ' — how mutual, how 
intimate ! No solitude receives him, but neighbor- 
hood and friend. 

ReHeved forever of the loss of those that must 
have fled, but for his sweet haste. Knowing he 
could not spare them, he hurried like a boy from 
that unhappened sorrow. Death has mislaid his 
sting— the grave forgot his victory. Because the 
flake fell not on him, we will accept the drift, and 
wade where he is lain. 

Do you remember the clover leaf? The little 
hand that plucked it will keep tight hold of mine. 

Please give her love to Annie, and Kate, who also 
gave a father. 

Emily. 

[To Mrs Holland, on the marriage of her daughter Annie, 
December 7, 188 1 ] 

Sweet Sister, — We were much relieved to know 
that the dear event had occurred without over- 
whelming any loved one, and perhaps it is sweeter 
and safer so. I feared much for the parting, to 
you, to whom parting has come so thickly in the 



1 86 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1881 

last few days. I knew all would be beautiful, and 
rejoice it was. Few daughters have the immortality 
of a father for a bridal gift. Could there be one more 
costly ? 

As we never have ceased to think of you, we will 
more tenderly, now. Confide our happiness to 
Annie, in her happiness. We hope the unknown 
balm may ease the balm withdrawn. 

You and Katie, the little sisters, lose her, yet ob- 
tain her, for each new width of love largens all the 
rest. Mother and Vinnie think and speak. Vinnie 
hopes to write. Would that mother could, but her 
poor hand is idle. Shall I return to you your last and 
sweetest words — ' But I love you all ' ? 

Emily. 

[Christmas, 1881.] 

Dare we wish the brave sister a sweet Christmas, 
who remembered us punctually in sorrow as in 
peace ? 

The broken heart is broadest. Had it come all 
the way in your little hand, it could not have reached 
us perfecter, though had it, we should have clutched 
the hand and forgot the rest. 

Fearing the day had associations of anguish to 
you, I was just writing when your token came. 
Then, humbled with wonder at your self- forgetting, 
I delayed till now. Reminded again of gigantic 
Emily Bronte, of whom her Charlotte said * Full of 
ruth for others, on herself she had no mercy.' The 



1883] TO MRS J. G. HOLLAND 187 

hearts that never lean, must fall. To moan is 
justified. 

To thank you for remembering under the piercing 
circumstances were a profanation. 

God bless the hearts that suppose they are beating 
and are not, and enfold in His infinite tenderness 
those that do not know they are beating and are. 

Shall we wish a triumphant Christmas to the 
brother withdrawn? Certainly he possesses it. 

How much of Source escapes with thee — ■ 
How chief thy sessions be — 
For thou hast borne a universe 
Entirely away. 



With wondering love, 
Whom seeing not, we ' clasp. 
[1883?] 



Emily. 



Emily. 



Concerning the little sister, not to assault, not to 
adjure, but to obtain those constancies which exalt 
friends, we followed her to St Augustine, since 
which the trail was lost, or says George Stearns of 
his alligator, * there was no such aspect.' 

The beautiful blossoms waned at last, the charm 
of all who knew them, resisting the effort of earth or 
air to persuade them to root, as the great florist 
says ' The flower that never will in other climate 
grow.* 



1 88 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1883 

To thank you for its fragrance would be impos- 
sible, but then its other blissful traits are more than 
can be numbered. And the beloved Christmas, too, 
for which I never thanked you. I hope the little 
heart is well, — big would have been the width, — 
and the health solaced ; any news of her as sweet as 
the first arbutus. 

Emily and Vinnie give the love greater every 
hour. 



CHAPTER V 
To Mr Samuel Bowles and Mrs Bowles 

AS Emily Dickinson approached middle 
life, and even before her thirtieth year, 
it seemed to become more and more impos- 
sible for her to mingle in general society ; and 
a growing feeling of shyness, as early as 1862 
or 1863, caused her to abstain, sometimes, 
from seeing the dearest friends who came to 
the house. In spite of her sympathy with 
sadness, and her deep apprehension of the 
tragic element in life, she was not only keenly 
humorous and witty, as already said, but, 
while made serious by the insistence of life's 
pathos, she was yet at heart as ecstatic as 
a bird. This combination of qualities made 
her companionship, when she vouchsafed it, 
peculiarly breezy and stimulating. Such a 
nature must inevitably know more pain than 
pleasure. 

Passionately devoted to her friends, her hap- 
piness in their love and trust was at times 
almost too intense to bear ; and it will already 



1 90 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1858 

have been seen how disproportionately great 
pain was caused by even comparatively slight 
separations. With her, pathos lay very, near 
raillery and badinage, — sadness very near 
delight. 

Whether, in writing her poems, the joy of 
creating was sufficient, or whether a thought 
of future and wider recognition ever came, it 
is certain that during life her friends made her 
audience. She cared more for appreciation 
and approval from the few who were dear 
than for any applause from an impersonal 
public. She herself writes, ' My friends are 
my estate.' 

All her letters show this rare loyalty of soul, 
those in the preceding chapter particularly, but 
none perhaps more strongly than those to Mr 
and Mrs Bowles. Beginning about 1858, the 
letters cover a period of twenty-six or twenty- 
seven years. Often a single short poem com- 
prises the entire letter, — sometimes only four 
lines, and without title, date, or signature, but 
unmistakably pertinent to a special occasion 
or subject. 

[Late August, 1858 ?] 

Amherst. 

Dear Mr Bowles, — I got the little pamphlet. 

I think you sent it to me, though unfamiliar with 

your hand — I may mistake. 



1858] TO MR AND MRS BOWLES I9I 

Thank you, if I am right. Thank you, if not, 
since here I find bright pretext to ask you how you 
are to-night, and for the health of four more, 
elder and minor Mary, Sallie and Sam, tenderly to 
inquire. 

I hope your cups are full. 

I hope your vintage is untouched. In such a 
porcelain life one likes to be su7'e that all is well 
lest one stumble upon one's hopes in a pile of 
broken crockery. 

My friends are my estate. Forgive me then the 
avarice to hoard them ! They tell me those were 
poor early have different views of gold. I don't 
know how that is. 

God is not so wary as we, else He would give us 
no friends, lest we forget Him ! The charms of 
the heaven in the bush are superseded, I fear, by 
the heaven in the hand, occasionally. 

Summer stopped since you were here. Nobody 
noticed her — that is, no men and women. Doubt- 
less, the fields are rent by petite anguish, and 
' mourners go about ' the woods. But this is not 
for us. Business enough indeed, our stately resur- 
rection ! A special courtesy, I judge, from what the 
clergy say ! To the ^ natural man ' bumblebees 
would seem an improvement, and a spicing of 
birds, but far be it from me to impugn such 
majestic tastes ! 

Our pastor says we are a ' worm.' How is that 
reconciled ? * Vain, sinful worm ' is possibly of 
another species. 



192 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1858 

Do you think we shall ' see God ' ? Think of 
Abraham strolling with Him in genial promenade ! 

The men are mowing the second hay. The 
cocks are smaller than the first, and spicier. I 
would distil a cup, and bear to all my friends, 
drinking to her no more astir, by beck, or burn, 
or moor ! 

Good-night, Mr Bowles. This is what they say 
who come back in the morning ; also the closing 
paragraph on repealed Hps. Confidence in day- 
break modifies dusk. 

Blessings for Mrs Bowles, and kisses for the 
bairns' lips. We want to see you, Mr Bowles, but 
spare you the rehearsal of ' familiar truths.' 
Good-night, 

Emily. 

[Winter, 1858 ?] 

Monday Eve. 

Dear Mrs Bowles, — You send sweet messages. 
Remembrance is more sweet than robins in May 
orchards. 

I love to trust that round bright fires, some, braver 
than I, take my pilgrim name. How are papa, 
mamma, and the little people? . . . 

It storms in Amherst five days — it snows, and 
then it rains, and then soft fogs like veils hang on 
all the houses, and then the days turn topaz, like a 
lady's pin. 

Thank you for bright bouquet, and afterwards 
verbena. I made a plant of a little bough of yellow 



1859] TO MR AND MRS BOWLES 1 93 

heliotrope which the bouquet bore me, and call it 
Mary Bowles. It is many days since the summer 
day when you came with Mr Bowles, and before 
another summer day it will be many days. My 
garden is a little knoll with faces under it, and only 
the pines sing tunes, now the birds are absent. I 
cannot walk to the distant friends on nights piercing 
as these, so I put both hands on the window-pane, 
and try to think how birds fly, and imitate, and fail, 
like Mr 'Rasselas.' I could make a balloon of 
a dandelion, but the fields are gone, and only ' Pro- 
fessor Lowe ' remains to weep with me. If I built 
my house I should like to call you. I talk of all 
these things with Carlo, and his eyes grow meaning, 
and his shaggy feet keep a slower pace. Are you 
safe to-night? I hope you may be glad. I ask 
God on my knee to send you much prosperity, few 
winter days, and long suns. I have a childish hope 
to gather all I love together and sit down beside 
and smile. . . . 

Will you come to Amherst? The streets are very 
cold now, but we will make you warm. But if you 
never came, perhaps you could write a letter, saying 
how much you would like to, if it were ' God's will.' 
I give good-night, and daily love to you and Mr 
Bowles. Emilie. 

I1859.] 

Amherst. 

I should like to thank dear Mrs Bowles for the 
little book, except my cheek is red with shame 

VOL. I. — \-X 



194 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1859 

because I write so often. Even the ^ lilies of the 
field ' have their dignities. 

Why did you bind it in green and gold? The 
immortal colors. I take it for an emblem. I never 
read before what Mr Parker wrote. 

I heard that he was * poison.' Then I like poison 
very well. Austin stayed from service yesterday 
afternoon, and I . . . found him reading my Christ- 
mas gift. ... I wish the ' faith of the fathers ' did n't 
wear brogans, and carry blue umbrellas. I give you 
all < New Year ! ' I think you kept gay Christmas, 
from the friend's account, and can only sigh with 
one not present at ' John Gilpin,' ^ and when he next 
doth ride a race,' etc. You picked your berries 
from my holly. Grasping Mrs -Bowles ! 

To-day is very cold, yet have I much bouquet 
upon the window-pane of moss and fern. I call 
them saints' flowers, because they do not romp as 
other flowers do, but stand so still and white. 

The snow is very tall, . . . which makes the 
trees so low that they tumble my hair, when I cross 
the bridge. 

I think there will be no spring this year, the 
flowers are gone so far. Let us have spring in our 
heart, and never mind the orchises ! . . . Please 
have my love, mother's, and Vinnie's. Carlo sends 
a brown kiss, and pussy a gray and white one, to 
each of the children. 

Please, now I write so often, make lamplighter of 
me, then I shall not have lived in vain. 



i86i] TO MR AND MRS BOWLES 195 

Dear Mrs Bowles, dear Mr Bowles, dear Sally — 
Sam and Mamie, now all shut your eyes, while I do 
benediction ! 

Lovingly, Emily. 

[Written in 1861, on the birth of a son.J 

Dear Mary, — Can you leave your flower long 
enough just to look at mine ? 

Which is the prettiest? I shall tell you myself, 
some day. I used to come to comfort you, but now 
to tell you how glad I am, and how glad we all are. 
. . . You must not stay in New York any more — 
you must come back now, and bring the blanket to 
Massachusetts where we can all look. What a 
responsible shepherd ! Four lambs in one flock ! 
Shall you be glad to see us, or shall we seem old- 
fashioned, by the face in the crib? 

Tell him I 've got a pussy for him, with a spotted 
gown; and a dog with ringlets. 

We have very cold days since you went away, and 
I think you hear the wind blow far as the Brevoort 
House, it comes from so far, and crawls so. Don't 
let it blow baby away. Will you call him Robert 
for me ? He is the bravest man alive, but his boy 
has no mamma. That makes us all weep, don't it? 
Good-night, Mary. 

Emily. 

One of the very few of Emily Dickinson's 
verses named by herself was sent Mrs Bowles 
soon after the preceding letter. 



196 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1861 



BABY. 

Teach him, when he makes the names, 

Such an one to say 

On his babbUng, berry Hps 

As should sound to me — 

Were my ear as near his nest 

As my thought, to-day — 

As should sound — * forbid us not ' — 

Some Hke * Emily.* 

[August, 1861.] 

Mary, — I do not know of you, a long while. 
I remember you — several times. I wish I knew if 
you kept me? The doubt, like the mosquito, 
buzzes round my faith. We are all human, Mary, 
until we are divine, and to some of us, that is far 
off, and to some as near as the lady ringing at the 
door ; perhaps that 's what alarms. I say I will go 
myself — I cross the river, and climb the fence — 
now I am at the gate, Mary — now I am in the hall 
— now I am looking your heart in the eye ! 

Did it wait for me — did it go with the company ? 
Cruel company, who have the stocks, and farms, 
and creeds — and // has just its heart ! I hope you 
are glad, Mary ; no pebble in the brook to-day — no 
film on noon. 

I can think how you look ; you can't think how I 
look ; I 've got more freckles, since you saw me, 



i86i] TO MR AND MRS BOWLES 197 

playing with the school- boys; then I pare the 
' Juneating ' to make the pie, and get my fingers 
' tanned.' 

Summer went very fast — she got as far as the 
woman from the hill, who brings the blueberry, and 
that is a long way. I shall have no winter this 
year, on account of the soldiers. Since I cannot 
weave blankets or boots, I thought it best to 
omit the season. Shall present a ' memorial ' to 
God when the maples turn. Can I rely on your 
* name ' ? 

How is your garden, Mary ? Are the pinks true, 
and the sweet williams faithful ? I 've got a ge- 
ranium like a sultana, and when the humming- 
birds come down, geranium and I shut our eyes, 
and go far away. 

Ask ' Mamie * if I shall catch her a butterfly with 
a vest like a Turk ? I will, if she will build him a 
house in her ' morning-glory.' 

Vinnie would send her love, but she put on a 
white frock, and went to meet to-morrow — a few 
minutes ago ; mother would send her love, but she 
is in the * eave spout,* sweeping up a leaf that blew 
in last November; I brought my own, myself, to 
you and Mr Bowles. 

Please remember me, because I remember you — 
always. 

Then follows the poem beginning ' My river 
runs to thee,' published in the First Series of 
the Poems y page 54. 



198 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1861 

Don't cry, dear Mary. Let us do that for 
you, because you are too tired now. We don't 
know how dark it is, but if you are at sea, perhaps 
when we say that we are there, you won't be as 
afraid. 

The waves are very big, but every one that covers 
you, covers us, too. 

Dear Mary, you can't see us, but we are close at 
your side. May we comfort you? 
Lovingly, 



Emily. 



[Autumn, 1861.] 



Friend, Sir, — I did not see you. I am very 
sorry. Shall I keep the wine till you come again, 
or send it in by Dick? It is now behind the door 
in the library, also an unclaimed flower. I did not 
know you were going so soon. Oh ! my tardy feet. 

Will you not come again? 

Friends are gems, infrequent. Potosi is a care, 
sir. I guard it reverently, for I could not afford to 
be poor now, after affluence. I hope the hearts in 
Springfield are not so heavy as they were. God 
bless the hearts in Springfield. 

I am happy you have a horse. I hope you will 
get stalwart, and come and see us many years. 

1 have but two acquaintance, the ' quick and the 
dead ' — and would like more. 

I write you frequently, and am much ashamed. 
My voice is not quite loud enough to cross so many 



i862] TO MR AND MRS BOWLES 199 

fields, which will, if you please, apologize for my 
pencil. 

Will you take my love to Mrs Bowles, whom I 
remember every day? 

Emilie. 

Vinnie hallos from the world of night-caps, ' don't 
forget her love.' 

[January, 1862.] 

Dear Friend, — Are you willing ? I am so far 
from land. To offer you the cup, it might some 
Sabbath come }ny turn. Of wine how solemn-full ! 

Did you get the doubloons — did you vote upon 
* Robert ' ? You said you would come in February. 
Only three weeks more to wait at the gate ! 

While you are sick, we — are homesick. Do you 
look out to-night? The moon rides like a girl 
through a topaz town. I don't think we shall ever 
be merry again — you are ill so long. When did 
the dark happen? 

I skipped a page to-night, because I come so 
often, now, I might have tired you. 

That page is fullest, though. 

Vinnie sends her love. I think father and mother 
care a great deal for you, and hope you may be 
well. When you tire with pain, to know that eyes 
would cloud, in Amherst — might that comfort, 
some ? 

Emily. 

We never forget Mary. 



200 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1862 



Dear Mr Bowles, — Thank you. 

Faith is a fine invention 
When gentlemen can see ! 
But microscopes are prudent 
In an emergency ! ^ 

You spoke of the ' East.' I have thought about it 
this winter. 

Don't you think you and I should be shrewder to 
take the mountain road? 

That bareheaded Ufe, under the grass, worries 
one Hke a wasp. 

The rose is for Mary. 

Emily. 

The zeros taught us phosphorus — 
We learned to like the fire 
By playing glaciers when a boy, 
And tinder guessed by power 

Of opposite to balance odd. 
If white, a red must be ! ^ 
Paralysis, our primer dumb 
Unto vitality. 

I could n't let Austin's note go, without a word. 

Emily. 

1 Second Series, page 53. 

2 The poems enclosed in letters to friends are often 
slightly different from her own copies preserved in the 
manuscript volumes. This line, for instance, in another 
place reads * Eclipses suns imply.' 



i862] TO MR AND MRS BOWLES 201 

Sunday Night. 

Dear Mary, — Could you leave * Charlie' long 
enough ? Have you time for me 1 I sent Mr 
Bowles a little note, last Saturday morning, asking 
him to do an errand for me. 

I forgot he was going to Washington, or I 
should n't have troubled him, so late. Now, Mary, 
I fear he did not get it, zndi you tried to do the 
errand for me — and it troubled you. Did it? 
Will you tell me ? Just say with your pencil ' It 
did n't tire me, Emily,' and then I shall be sure, for 
with all your care, I would not have taxed you for 
the world. 

You never refused me, Mary, you cherished me 
many times, but I thought it must seem so selfish to 
ask the favor of Mr Bowles just as he went from 
home, only I forgot that. Tell me to-night just a 
word, Mary, with your own hand, so I shall know I 
harassed none — and I will be so glad. 

Austin told us of Charlie — I send a rose for his 
small hands. 

Put it in, when he goes to sleep, and then he will 
dream of Emily, and when you bring him to Amherst 
we shall be ^ old friends.' Don't love him so well, 
you know, as to forget us. We shall wish he was n't 
there, if you do, I 'm afraid, sha'n't we ? 

I '11 remember you, if you hke me to, while Mr 
Bowles is gone, and that will stop the lonely, some, 
but I cannot agree to stop when he gets home from 
Washington. 



202 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1862 

Good-night, Mary. You won't forget my little 
note, to-morrow, in the mail. It will be the first 
one you ever wrote me in your life, and yet, was I 
the little friend a long time? Was I, Mary? 

Emily. 

[March, 1862.] 

Perhaps you thought I did n't care — because I 
stayed out, yesterday. I did care, Mr Bowles. I 
pray for your sweet health to Allah every morning, 
but something troubled me, and I knew you needed 
light and air, so I did n't come. Nor have I the 
conceit that you noticed me — but I could n't bear 
that you, or Mary, so gentle to me, should think me 
forgetful. 

It 's little at the most, we can do for ours, and we 
must do that flying, or our things are flown ! 

Dear friend, I wish you were well. 

It grieves me till I cannot speak, that you are 
suffering. Won't you come back? Can't I bring 
you something? My little balm might be o'erlooked 
by wiser eyes, you know. Have you tried the 
breeze that swings the sign, or the hoof of the 
dandelion ? / own 'em — wait for mine ! This is 
all I have to say. Kinsmen need say nothing, but 
* Swiveller ' may be sure of the 

* Marchioness.' 

Love for Mary. 

Dear Friend, — ... Austin is disappointed — 
he expected to see you to-day. He is sure you 



1 862] TO MR AND MRS BOWLES 203 

won't go to sea without first speaking to him. I 
presume if Emily and Vinnie knew of his writing, 
they would entreat him to ask you not. 

Austin is chilled by Frazer's murder.^ He says 
his brain keeps saying over ' Frazer is killed ' — 
* Frazer is killed,' just as father told it to him. Two 
or three words of lead, that dropped so deep they 
keep weighing. Tell Austin how to get over them ! 

He is very sorry you are not better. He cares 
for you when at the office, and afterwards, too, at 
home ; and sometimes wakes at night, with a worry 
for you he did n't finish quite by day. He would 
not like it that I betrayed him, so you'll never 
tell. . . . 

Mary sent beautiful flowers. Did she tell you? 

[Spring, 1862.] 

Dear Friend, — The hearts in Amherst ache to- 
night — you could not know how hard. They 
thought they could not wait, last night, until the 
engine sang a pleasant tune that time, because that 
you were coming. The flowers waited, in the vase, 
and love got peevish, watching. A railroad person 
rang, to bring an evening paper — Vinnie tipped 
pussy over, in haste to let you in, and I, for joy and 
dignity, held tight in my chair. My hope put out a 
petal. 

You would come, to-day, — but ... we don't be- 

1 A son of President Stearns of Amherst College, who 
was killed during the war, 13th March, 1862. 



204 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1862 

lieve it, now ; ' Mr Bowles not coming ! ' Would n't 
you, to-morrow, and this but be a bad dream, gone 
by next morning? 

Please do not take our spring away, since you blot 
summer out ! We cannot count our tears for this, 
because they drop so fast. . . . 

Dear friend, we meant to make you brave, but 
moaned before we thought. ... If you *11 be sure 
and get well, we '11 try to bear it. If we could only 
care the less, it would be so much easier. Your 
letter troubled my throat. It gave that little scald- 
ing we could not know the reason for till we grew 
far up. 

I must do my good-night in crayon I meant to in 
red. 

Love for Mary. 

Emily. 

After Mr Bowles had sailed for Europe, 
Emily sent this quaintly consoling note to 
Springfield. 

[Early Summer, 1862,] 

Dear Mary, — When the best is gone, I know 
that other things are not of consequence. The 
heart wants what it wants, or else it does not 
care. 

You wonder why I write so. Because I cannot 
help. I like to have you know some care — so 
when your life gets faint for its other life, you can 
lean on us. We won't break, Mary. We look very 
small, but the reed can carry weight. 



*i862] TO MR AND MRS BOWLES 205 

Not to see what we love is very terrible, and talk- 
ing does n't ease it, and nothing does but just itself. 
The eyes and hair we chose are all there are — to 
us. Is n't it so, Mary ? 

I often wonder how the love of Christ is done 
when that below holds so. 

I hope the Utde '■ Robert ' coos away the pain. 
Perhaps your flowers help, some. . . . 

The frogs sing sweet to-day — they have such 
pretty, lazy times — how nice to be a frog ! . . . 

Mother sends her love to you — she has a sprained 
foot, and can go but little in the house, and not 
abroad at all. 

Don't dishearten, Mary, we '11 keep thinking of you. 

Kisses for all. , 

Emily. 

[To Mr Bowles, June, 1862.] 

Dear Friend, — You go away — and where you 
go we cannot come — but then the months have 
names — and each one comes but once a year — and 
though it seems they never could, they sometimes 
do, go by. 

We hope you are more well than when you lived 
in America, and that those foreign people are kind, 
and true, to you. We hope you recollect each life 
you left behind, even ours, the least. 

We wish we knew how Amherst looked, in your 
memory. Smaller than it did, maybe, and yet things 
swell, by leaving, if big in themselves. 



206 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1862 

We hope you will not alter, but be the same we 
grieved for when the China sailed. 

If you should like to hear the news, we did not 
die here — we did not change. We have the guests 
we did, except yourself — and the roses hang on the 
same stems as before you went. Vinnie trains the 
honeysuckle, and the robins steal the string for 
nests — quite, quite as they used to. 

I have the errand from my heart — I might forget 
to tell it. Would you please to come home ? The 
long life's years are scant, and fly away, the Bible 
says, like a told story — and sparing is a solemn 
thing, somehow, it seems to me — and I grope fast, 
with my fingers, for all out of my sight I own, to get 
it nearer. 

I had one letter from Mary. I think she tries to 
be patient — but you would n't want her to succeed, 
would you, Mr Bowles? 

It 's fragrant news, to know they pine, when we are 
out of sight. 

It is 'most Commencement. The little cousin 
from Boston has come, and the hearts in Pelham 
have an added thrill. We shall miss you, most, 
dear friend, who annually smiled with us, at the 
gravities. I question if even Dr Vaill have his 
wonted applause. 

Should anybody, where you go, talk of Mrs 
Browning, you must hear for us, and if you touch 
her grave, put one hand on the head, for me — her 
unmentioned mourner. 



1 862] TO MR AND MRS BOWLES 20/ 

Father and mother, and Vinnie and Carlo, send 
their love to you, and warm wish for your health — 
and I am talcing lessons in prayer, so to coax God 
to keep you safe. Good-night, dear friend. You 
sleep so far, how can I know you hear? 

Emily. 

Dear Friend, — I cannot see you. You will not 
less believe me. That you return to us alive is 
better than a summer, and more to hear your voice 
below than news of any bird. 

Emily. 

[August, 1862.] 

Dear Mr Bowles, — Vinnie is trading with a tin 
peddler — buying water-pots for me to sprinkle 
geraniums with when you get home next winter, 
and she has gone to the war. 

Summer is n't so long as it was, when we stood 
looking at it before you went away; and when I 
finish August, we '11 hop the autumn very soon, and 
then 't will be yourself. 

I don't know how many will be glad to see you, — 
because I never saw your whole friends, but I have 
heard that in large cities noted persons chose you — 
though how glad those I know will be, is easier told. 

I tell you, Mr Bowles, it is a suffering to have a sea 
— no care how blue — between your soul and you. 

The hills you used to love when you were in 
Northampton, miss their old lover, could they 



208 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1862 

speak; and the puzzled look deepens in Carlo's 
forehead as the days go by and you never come. 

I 've learned to read the steamer place in news- 
papers now. It 's 'most like shaking hands with you, 
or more like your ringing at the door. 

We reckon your coming by the fruit. When the 
grape gets by, and the pippin and the chestnut — 
when the days are a little short by the clock, and a 
little long by the want — when the sky has new red 
gowns, and a purple bonnet — then we say you will 
come. I am glad that kind of time goes by. 

It is easier to look behind at a pain, than to see 
it coming. 

A soldier called, a morning ago, and asked for a 
nosegay to take to battle. I suppose he thought we 
kept an aquarium. 

How sweet it must be to one to come home, 
whose home is in so many houses, and every heart a 
'best room.' I mean you, Mr Bowles. . . . Have 
not the clovers names to the bees? 

Emily. 

Before he comes 

We weigh the time, 

'T is heavy, and 't is light. 

When he departs 

An emptiness 

Is the superior freight. 

Emily. 



i862] TO MR AND MRS BOWLES 209 

While asters 

On the hill 

Their everlasting fashions set, 

And covenant gentians frill ! 

Emily. 

[Late Autumn, 1862.J 

So glad we are, a stranger 'd deem 
'T was sorry that we were ; 
For where the holiday should be 
There publishes a tear ; 
Nor how ourselves be justified. 
Since grief and joy are done 
So similar, an optizan 
Could not decide between. 

[Early Winter, 1862.] 

Dear Friend, — Had we the art like you, to 
endow so many, by just recovering our health, 
'twould give us tender pride, nor could we keep 
the news, but carry it to you, who seem to us to 
own it most. 

So few that live have life, it seems of quick im- 
portance not one of those escape by death. And 
since you gave us fear, congratulate us for ourselves 
— you give us safer peace. 

How extraordinary that life's large population 
contain so few of power to us — and those a vivid 
species who leave no mode, like Tyrian dye. 

Remembering these minorities, permit our grati- 

VOL. I. — 14 



210 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1862 

tude for you. We ask that you be cautious, for 
many sakes, excelling ours. To recapitulate the 
stars were useless as supreme. Yourself is yours, 
dear friend, but ceded, is it not, to here and there a 
minor life? Do not defraud these, for gold may be 
bought, and purple may be bought, but the sale 
of the spirit never did occur. 

Do not yet work. No public so exorbitant of 
any as its friend, and we can wait your health. 
Besides, there is an idleness more tonic than toil. 

The loss of sickness — was it loss ? 
Or that ethereal gain 
You earned by measuring the grave, 
Then measuring the sun. 

Be sure, dear friend, for want you have estates 

of lives. 

Emily. 

[With Flowers.] 

If she had been the mistletoe, 

And I had been the rose. 

How gay upon your table 

My velvet life to close ! 

Since I am of the Druid, 

And she is of the dew, 

I '11 deck tradition's buttonhole, 

And send the rose to you. 

E. 

Dear Mr Bowles, — I can't thank you any 
more. You are thoughtful so many times you 



i862] TO MR AND MRS BOWLES 211 

grieve me always ; now the old words are numb, 
and there are n't any new ones. 

Brooks are useless in freshet time. When you 
come to Amherst — please God it were to-day — I 
will tell you about the picture — if I can^ I will. 

Speech is a prank of Parliament, 

Tears a trick of the nerve, — 

But the heart with the heaviest freight on 

Does n't always swerve. 

Emily. 

Perhaps you think me stooping ! 

I 'm not ashamed of that ! 

Christ stooped until he touched the grave ! 

Do those at sacrament 

Commemorate dishonor — 

Or love, annealed of love. 

Until it bend as low as death 

Re-royalized above? 

The juggler's hat her country is, 
The mountain gorse the bee 's. 

I stole them from a bee, 
Because — thee ! 
Sweet plea — 
He pardoned me ! 

Emily. 

Besides the verses given here, many others 
were sent to Mr and Mrs Bowles, as to the 
Hollands, which, having already been published 



212 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1863 

in one or the other volume of the PoejnSf 
will not be reprinted. 

[Summer, 1863.] 

Dear Friends, — I am sorry you came, because 
you went away. 

Hereafter, I will pick no rose, lest it fade or prick 
me. 

I would like to have you dwell here. 

Though it is almost nine o'clock, the skies are 
gay and yellow, and there 's a purple craft or so, in 
which a friend could sail. To-night looks like 
' Jerusalem' ! . . . I hope we may all behave so as 
to reach Jerusalem. 

How are your hearts to-day? Ours are pretty 
well. I hope your tour was bright, and gladdened 
Mrs Bowles. Perhaps the retrospect will call you 
back some morning. 

You shall find us all at the gate if you come in a 
hundred years, just as we stood that day. If it 
become of ^jasper' previously, you will not object, 
so that we lean there still, looking after you. 

I rode with Austin this morning. He showed me 
mountains that touched the sky, and brooks that 
sang like bobolinks. Was he not very kind? I 
will give them to you, for they are mine, and ' all 
things are mine,' excepting * Cephas and ApoUos,' 
for whom I have no taste. Vinnie's love brims 
mine. 

Take 

Emilie. 



1863] TO MR AND MRS BOWLES 213 

Dear Mrs Bowles, — Since I have no sweet 
flower to send you, I enclose my heart. A little 
one, sunburnt, half broken sometimes, yet close as 
the spaniel to its friends. Your flowers come from 
heaven, to which, if I should ever go, I will pluck 
you palms. 

My words are far away when I attempt to thank 
you, so take the silver tear instead, from my full eye. 

You have often remembered me. 

I have little dominion. Are there not wiser than 
I, who, with curious treasure, could requite your 
gift? 

Angels fill the hand that loaded 

Emily's. 

Nature and God, I neither knew. 

Yet both, so well knew me 

They startled, like executors 

Of an identity. 

Yet neither told, that I could learn ; 

My secret as secure 

As Herschel's private interest, 

Or Mercury's affair. 

[1863.] 

Dear Friend, — You remember the little '■ meet- 
ing ' we held for you last spring ? We met again, 
Saturday. 

'Twas May when we 'adjourned,' but then ad- 
journs are all. The meetings were alike, Mr 
Bowles. 



214 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1863 
^ ^ ^ 

The topic did not tire us^ so we chose no new. 
We, voted to remember you; so long as both should 
live! including immortality;, to count you^ as our- 
selves, except sometimes more tenderly, j as now, 
when you are ill, land we, the haler of the two — 
and so I bring the bond we sign so many times,; for 
you to read when chaos comes,! or treason, or de<:ay, 
still witnessing for^ morning. . J . We hope our joy 
to see you gave* of its own degree to you.: We pray 
for your new health, the prayer that goes not down 
when they shut the church. We offer you our cups 
— stintless, as to the bee, -;— the lily, her new 
liquors, t ' 

Would you like summer ? Taste of ours. 

Spices? Buy here ! 

Ill ! We have berries, for the parching ! 

Weary ! Furloughs of down ! 

Perplexed ! Estates of violet trouble ne'er 
looked on ! 

Captive ! We bring reprieve of roses 1 

Fainting ! Flasks of air ! 

Even for Death, a fairy medicine. 

But, which is it, sir? Emily. 

I '11 send the feather from my hat ! 
Who knows but at the sight of that 
My sovereign will relent? 
As trinket, worn by faded child. 
Confronting eyes long comforted 
Blisters the adamant ! 

Emily. 



1864] TO MR AND MRS BOWLES 21$ 

Her breast is fit for pearls, 
But I was not a diver. 
Her brow is fit for thrones, 
But I had not a crest. 
Her heart is fit for rest — 
I, a sparrow, build there 
Sweet of twigs and twine. 
My perennial nest. 

[1864?] 

Dear Friend, — How hard to thank you — but 
the large heart requites itself. Please to need me. 
I wanted to ask you to receive Mr Browning from 
me, but you denied my Bronte — so I did not dare. 

Is it too late now? I should like so much to 
remind you how kind you had been to me. 

You could choose — as you did before — if it would 
not be obnoxious — except where you ' measured by 
your heart,' you should measure this time by mine. 
I wonder which would be biggest ! 

Austin told, Saturday morning, that you were not 
so well. 'T was sundown, all day, Saturday — and 
Sunday such a long bridge no news of you could 
cross ! 

Teach us to miss you less because the fear to miss 
you more haunts us all the time. We did n't care 
so much, once. I wish it was then, now, but you 
kept tightening, so it can't be stirred to-day. You 
did n't mean to be worse, did you ? Was n't it a 
mistake ? 



2l6 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1864 

Won't you decide soon to be the strong man we 
first knew? 'T would lighten things so much — and 
yet that man was not so dear — I guess you 'd 
better not. 

We pray for you, every night. A homely shrine 
our knee, but Madonna looks at the heart first. 
Dear friend — don't discourage ! 
Affectionately, 

Emily. 
No wilderness can be 
Where this attendeth thee — 
No desert noon. 
No fear of frost to come 
Haunt the perennial bloom, 
But certain June ! 

Emily. 
The following lines, sent with flowers, have 
almost as quaint and 'seventeenth century' a 
flavor as the now famous quatrain beginning, — 

' A death-blow is a life-blow to some.' 

If recollecting were forgetting 
Then I remember not. 
And if forgetting, recollecting, 
How near I had forgot ! 
And if to miss were merry, 
And if to mourn were gay. 
How very blithe the fingers 
That gathered this, to-day ! 

Emilie. 



1864] TO MR AND MRS BOWLES 21/ 

Other verses, sent at different times, were 
written in the same general hand, — that of 
the early middle period, from about 1863 to 
1870; among them : — 

* They have not chosen me,' he said, 

* But I have chosen them.' 
Brave, broken-hearted statement 
Uttered in Bethlehem ! 

/could not have told it, 

But since Jesus dared, 

Sovereign ! know a daisy 

Thy dishonor shared. Emily. 

Saturday. 
Mother never asked a favor of Mr Bowles before 
— that he accept from her the little barrel of apples. 
* Sweet apples,' she exhorts me, with an occasional 
Baldwin for Mary and the squirrels. 

Emily. 

Just once — oh ! least request ! 

Could adamant refuse 

So small a grace. 

So scanty put, 

Such agonizing terms? 

Would not a God of flint 

Be conscious of a sigh, 

As down his heaven dropt remote, 

*■ Just once, sweet Deity ? ' 



1865] TO MR AND MRS BOWLES 219 

A spray of white pine was enclosed with this 
note : — 

A feather from the whippoorwill 

That everlasting sings ! 

Whose galleries are sunrise, 

Whose opera the springs, 

Whose emerald nest the ages spin 

Of mellow, murmuring thread, 

Whose beryl egg^ what school boys- hunt 

In * recess ' overhead ! 

Emily. 

We part with the river at the flood through a 

timid custom, though with the same waters we have 

often played. 

Emily. 
[1865?] 

Dear Friend, — Vinnie accidentally mentions 
that you hesitated between the Theophilus and 
the Junius. 

Would you confer so sweet a favor as to accept 
that too, when you come again ? 

I went to the room as soon as you left, to confirm 
your presence, recalling the Psalmist's sonnet to 
God beginning 

I have no life but this — 

To lead it here, 

Nor any death but lest 

Dispelled from there. 

Nor tie to earths to come, 

Nor action new, 

Except through this extent — 

The love of you. 



220 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1869 

It is Strange that the most intangible thing is the 

most adhesive. 

Your ' rascal.* 
I washed the adjective. 

[1868 ?] 

I should think you would have few letters, for 
your own are so noble that they make men afraid. 
And sweet as your approbation is, it is had in fear, 
lest your depth convict us. 

You compel us each to remember that when 
water ceases to rise, it has commenced falling. 
That is the law of flood. 

The last day that I saw you was the newest and 
oldest of my life. 

Resurrection can come but once, first, to the 
same house. Thank you for leading us by it. 

Come always, dear friend, but refrain from going. 
You spoke of not liking to be forgotten. Could 
you, though you would? 

Treason never knew you. 

Emily. 

[1869?] 

Dear Friend, — You have the most triumphant 
face out of Paradise, probably because you are 
there constantly, instead of ultimately. 

Ourselves we do inter with sweet derision the 
channel of the dust; who once achieves, invali- 
dates the balm of that religion, that doubts as 

fervently as it believes. 

Emily. 



j873] to MR AND MRS BOWLES 221 

Wednesday, 
Dear Mr Bowles's note, of itself a blossom, came 
only to-night. 

I am glad it lingered, for each was all the heart 
could hold. 

Emily. 

Of your exquisite act there can be no acknowl- 
edgment but the ignominy that grace gives. 

Emily. 
Could mortal lip divine 
The undeveloped freight 
Of a delivered syllable, 
'T would crumble with the weight ! 

[I873-] 

Dear Friend, — It was so delicious to see you 
— a peach before the time — it makes all seasons 
possible, and zones a caprice. 

We, who arraign the Arabian Nights for their un- 
derstatement, escape the stale sagacity of supposing 
them sham. 

We miss your vivid face, and the besetting accents 
you bring from your Numidian haunts. 

Your coming welds anew that strange trinket of 
life which each of us wear and none of us own ; 
and the phosphorescence of yours startles us for its 
permanence. 

Please rest the life so many own — for gems 
abscond. 



222 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1874 

In your own beautiful words — for the voice is 
the palace of all of us, — 

' Near, but remote.' 

Emily. 

[1874-] 
Dear Friend, — The paper wanders so I cannot 
write my name on it, so I give you father's portrait 
instead. 

As summer into autumn slips 

And yet we sooner say 

* The summer ' than '■ the autumn,' lest 

We turn the sun away. 

And almost count it an affront 
The presence to concede 
Of one however lovely, not 
The one that we have loved, — 

So we evade the charge of years, 

One, one attempting shy 

The circumvention of the shaft 

Of life's declivity. Emily. 

If we die, will you come for us, as you do for 
father? 

' Not born,' yourself ' to die,' you must reverse us 
all. 

Last to adhere 

When summers swerve away — 

Elegy of 

Integrity. 



1S78] TO MRS BOWLES 223 

To remember our own Mr Bowles is all we can do. 
With grief it is done, so warmly and long, it can 
never be new. 

Emily, 

In January of 1878, Mr Bowles died, leaving 
a sense of irreparable loss, not only to his 
friends, but to his great constituency through 
The Repiihlican, into whose success he had 
woven the very tissue of his own magnetic 
personality. 

[January, 1878.] 

I hasten to you, Mary, because no moment must 
be lost when a heart is breaking, for though it broke 
so long, each time is newer than the last, if it broke 
truly. To be willing that I should speak to you was 
so generous, dear. 

Sorrow almost resents love, it is so inflamed. 

I am glad if the broken words helped you. I 
had not hoped so much, I felt so faint in uttering 
them, thinking of your great pain. Love makes us 
' heavenly ' without our trying in the least. 'T is 
easier than a Saviour — it does not stay on high and 
call us to its distance ; its low ' Come unto me ' 
begins in every place. It makes but one mistake, 
it tells us it is * rest ' — perhaps its toil is rest, but 
what we have not known we shall know again, that 
divine * again' for which we are all breathless. 

I am glad you *work.' Work is a bleak re- 



224 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1878 

deemer, but it does redeem; it tires the flesh so 
that can't tease the spirit. 

Dear * Mr Sam ' is very near, these midwinter 
days. When purples come on Pelham, in the 
afternoon, we say * Mr Bowles's colors.' I spoke to 
him once of his Gem chapter, and the beautiful 
eyes rose till they were out of reach of mine, in 
some hallowed fathom. 

Not that he goes — we love him more who led 
us while he stayed. Beyond earth's trafficking 
frontier, for what he moved, he made. 

Mother is timid and feeble, but we keep her with 
us. She thanks you for remembering her, and 
never forgets you. . . . Your sweet * and left me 
all alone,' consecrates your lips. 

Emily. 

[Spring, 1878.] 

Had you never spoken to any, dear, they would 
not upbraid you, but think of you more softly, as 
one who had suffered too much to speak. To forget 
you would be impossible, had we never seen you ; 
for you were his for whom we moan while con- 
sciousness remains. As he was himself Eden, he 
is with Eden, for we cannot become what we were 
not. 

I felt it sweet that you needed me — though but a 
simple shelter I will always last. I hope your boys 
and girls assist his dreadful absence, for sorrow does 
not stand so still on their flying hearts. 



r879] TO MRS BOWLES 225 

How fondly we hope they look like hhn — that 
his beautiful face may be abroad. 

Was not his countenance on earth graphic as 
a spirit's? The time will be long till you see him, 
dear, but it will be short, for have we not each our 
heart to dress — heavenly as his ? 

He is without doubt with my father. Thank you 
for thinking of him, and the sweet, last respect you 
so faithfully paid him. 

Mother is growing better, though she cannot 
stand, and has not power to raise her head for a 
glass of water. She thanks you for being sorry, and 
speaks of you with love. . . . Your timid ' for his 
sake,' recalls that sheltering passage, ' for his sake 
who loved us, and gave himself to die for us.' 

Emily. 

[1879.1 

How lovely to remember ! How tenderly they 
told of you ! Sweet toil for smitten hands to con- 
sole the smitten ! 

Labors as endeared may engross our lost. Buds 
of other days quivered in remembrance. Hearts 
of other days lent their solemn charm. 

Life of flowers lain in flowers — what a home of 
dew ! And the bough of ivy ; was it as you said ? 
Shall I plant it softly ? 

There were litde feet, white as alabaster. 

Dare I chill them with the soil ? 

VOL. I, — 15 



226 LETTERS OP EMILY DICKINSON [1880 

Nature is our eldest mother, she will do no harm. 
Let the phantom love that enrolls the sparrow 
shield you softer than a child. 

[April, 1880.] 

Dear Mary, — The last April that father lived, 
lived I mean below, there were several snow-storms, 
and the birds were so frightened and cold, they sat 
by the kitchen door. Father went to the barn in 
his slippers and came back with a breakfast of grain 
for each, and hid himself while he scattered it, lest 
it embarrass them. Ignorant of the name or fate 
of their benefactor, their descendants are singing 
this afternoon. 

As I glanced at your lovely gift, his i^pril re- 
turned. I am powerless toward your tenderness. 

Thanks of other days seem abject and dim, yet 
antiquest altars are the fragrantest. The past has 
been very near this week, but not so near as the 
future — both of them pleading, the latter priceless. 

David's grieved decision haunted me when a little 
girl. I hope he has found Absalom. 

Immortality as a guest is sacred, but when it 
becomes as with you and with us, a member of 
the family, the tie is more vivid. . . . 

If affection can reinforce, you, dear, shall not 
fall. 

Emily. 



i88i] TO MRS BOWLES 227 

[Probably the famous 'Yellow Day,' September 6, 1881.] 

Tuesday. 

Dear Mary, — I give you only a word this 
mysterious morning in which we must light the 
lamps to see each other's faces, thanking you for 
the trust, too confiding for speech. 

You spoke of enclosing the face of your child. 
As it was not there, forgive me if I tell you, lest 
even the copy of sweetness abscond ; and may I 
trust you received the flower the mail promised to 
take you, my foot being incompetent? 

The timid mistake about being ' forgotten,' shall 
I caress or reprove ? Mr Samuel's ^ sparrow ' does 
not ' fall ' without the fervent * notice.' 

* Would you see us, would Vinnie ? ' Oh, my 
doubting Mary ! Were you and your brave son in 
my father's house, it would require more prowess 
than mine to resist seeing you. 

Shall I still hope for the picture? And please 
address to my full name, as the little note was 
detained and opened, the name being so frequent in 
town, though not an Emily but myself. 

Vinnie says 'give her my love, and tell her I 
would delight to see her;' and mother combines. 

There should be no tear on your cheek, dear, had 
my hand the access to brush it away. 

Emily. 
[1881.] 

Dear Mary, — To have been the mother of the 
beautiful face, is of itself fame, and the look of 



228 LETTERS OF EMILY DICKINSON [1881 

Arabia in the eyes is like Mr Samuel. ' Mr 
Samuel ' is his memorial name. * Speak, that we 
may see thee/ and Gabriel no more ideal than his 
swift eclipse. Thank you for the beauty, which I 
reluctantly return, and feel like committing a 
' startHng fraud ' in that sweet direction. If her 
heart is as magical as her face, she will wreck many 
a spirit, but the sea is ordained. 

Austin looked at her long and earnestly. 

* Yes, it is Sam's child.' His Cashmere confeder- 
ate. It is best, dear, you have so much to do. 
Action is redemption. 

' And again a htde while and ye shall not see me,' 
Jesus confesses is temporary. 

Thank you indeed. 

Emily. 



END OF VOL. I. 



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